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Huawei says US license extension doesn't fix its unfair treatment

It's the third such extension granted by the Commerce Department, but Huawei downplays its importance.

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Huawei is able to do business with US companies for another 90 days.

Angela Lang/CNET

The US Commerce Department for the third time has extended a temporary license that lets American companies do business with Huawei. This 90-day reprieve for the embattled Chinese telecom follows the first one in May and the second in August.

The department blacklisted Huawei following a May executive order from President Donald Trump that effectively banned the company from US communications networks. It required US companies to get a license to do business with Huawei, which faces national security concerns due to its cozy relationship with the Chinese government. 

"The Temporary General License extension will allow carriers to continue to service customers in some of the most remote areas of the United States who would otherwise be left in the dark," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday in a statement. "The Department will continue to rigorously monitor sensitive technology exports to ensure that our innovations are not harnessed by those who would threaten our national security."

Huawei said the extension won't have much of an impact on its business, and doesn't change the fact that "Huawei continues to be treated unfairly" by the US.

"We have long held that the decision by the US Department of Commerce to add Huawei to the Entity List has caused more harm to the US than to Huawei," it said in a press release. "This has done significant economic harm to the American companies with which Huawei does business, and has already disrupted collaboration and undermined the mutual trust on which the global supply chain depends."

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The extension doesn't help Huawei with the biggest challenge created by the ban -- the loss of Google apps on its latest phones. Google parent company Alphabet revoked Huawei's Android license, and the company has been forced to resort to an open-source version of the operating system. 

An exec said it'll be years before HarmonyOS, Huawei's replacement operating system, will be able to match the search giant's suite of services.

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, raised concerns about the extension via a series of tweets Monday afternoon.

"If President Trump and his Commerce Department agree that Huawei is a national security threat, they should start acting like it," he said. "Every day President Trump is soft on Huawei, the Chinese Communist Party takes that as a signal that they can continue hurting American jobs and threatening our national security without any repercussions."

Originally published Nov. 18, 4:39 a.m. PT.
Update Nov. 19, 3:06 a.m.: Adds Huawei statement.