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What the Huawei Ban Reprieve Means for Its Android Phones

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Nine days ago, President Trump announced that it was lifting the ban Huawei after China forced him to do so in order to relaunch trade talks. According to new statements by the US Secretary of Commerce, this may open the door for Google to legally license Android to Huawei again.

“Basically we agreed today that we will continue the negotiation, which I ended a while back,” Trump said back on June 29

“One of the things I will allow, however, is, a lot of people would be surprised… we send and we sell to Huawei a tremendous amount of product that goes into the various things that they make and I said that’s ok, that we will keep selling that product,” Trump continued. 

As it turns out, that didn’t mean that every American company — like Google or Intel — would be able to resume their relationship with the troubled Chinese tech maker as if nothing happened. Today, Reuters reports that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said at a DC conference that the government will issue licenses to companies on a product by product basis. However, Huawei remains in the list of dangerous entities to the country’s national security — the infamous Commerce Department’s “Entity List”.

Reuters writes that Ross affirmed that “winning licenses would require overcoming a presumption of denial, and said the scope of items requiring licenses would not change,” opening the door to new approvals at the same time. However, he opened the door to some licensing approvals as long as they didn’t share technology that could pose a threat to the interest of the United States. 

While the focus of this ban and these new licenses is the semiconductor industry, this license would be applicable to software products as well. This means that there’s a probability that Google’s relationship with Huawei may resume as soon as the former gets a license to share the Android operating system.

Android may be back... for a limited time

Speaking at a CNBC event, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that the licensing requirements for products that posed "no national security influences or consequences" had been relaxed.

Android shouldn't pose a threat to national security, as it is the operating system that every Chinese manufacturer uses and its code is publicly available already. 

Even if Google gets the OK to license Android, the U.S. government may take it away just as easily. According to Kudlow,  the government is “opening that up for a limited time period.” If the trade talks with China go awry again, Trump may establish a full ban as fast as it’s partially lifting this one.