President Donald Trump said Saturday he will allow U.S. companies to sell products to Chinese tech giant Huawei. This was a concession to China following talks with President Xi Jinping.
“U.S. companies can sell their equipment to Huawei,” Trump said at a news conference in Osaka, Japan, the site of the Group of 20 (G20) summit. “We’re talking about equipment where there’s no great national security problem with it.”
CNN tweeted this response to Trump’s announcement: “President Trump has appeared to soften his tone on Chinese communications giant Huawei, suggesting that he would allow the company to once again purchase US technology.”
Huawei is on a Commerce Department “entity list” that requires U.S. companies to get permission from Washington before selling components to the Chinese firm. Huawei, the second biggest smartphone brand in the world, has denied it cooperates with the Communist Party.
In retaliation to the administration’s blacklist, China announced last month it would establish an “unreliable entity list” of foreign companies and individuals that “seriously damage” Chinese enterprises.
“I said that’s OK, that we will keep selling that product, these are American companies that make these products. That’s very complex, by the way,” Trump said. “I’ve agreed to allow them to continue to sell that product so that American companies will continue.”
The president added he believed he and Xi are “getting a little bit closer” to a broader trade deal.
Democrats and Republicans alike condemned the decision to allow U.S. companies to sell to Huawei, saying the ban was an effective tool to push China to adopt fairer trade policies and that the company poses a legitimate threat.
“Huawei is one of few potent levers we have to make China play fair on trade. If President Trump backs off, as it appears he is doing, it will dramatically undercut our ability to change China’s unfair trades practices,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.