US companies allowed to work with Huawei on setting 5G standards

The amendment comes more than a year after Huawei was placed on a trade blacklist prohibiting firms from selling technology and parts to the Chinese company.

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Sareena is a senior editor for CNET covering the mobile beat including device reviews. She is a seasoned multimedia journalist with more than a decade's worth of experience producing stories for television and digital publications across Asia's financial capitals including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Mumbai. Prior to CNET, Sareena worked at CNN as a news writer and Reuters as a producer.
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US companies will be permitted to work with Huawei on developing 5G standards under a new rule announced by the US Commerce Department on Monday.

"The United States will not cede leadership in global innovation," US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in statement published Monday. "The department is committed to protecting U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by encouraging U.S. industry to fully engage and advocate for U.S. technologies to become international standards."

The amendment comes more than a year after the US placed Huawei on a trade blacklist that prohibits American firms from selling technology and parts to the Chinese telecom company.  While it has hurt Huawei's business, it had also created confusion over whether US firms could participate in organizations that set industry standards. 

"This action is meant to ensure Huawei's placement on the Entity List in May 2019 does not prevent American companies from contributing to important standards-developing activities," the statement on the website of Department of Commerce said.

Huawei says its stance remains unchanged in light of the rule-change. 

"We would like to continue holding sincere discussions in relation to standards for new technologies with our counterparts, including those in the US, contributing to the technological advancement of society at large," Huawei spokesman Joe Kelly said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

The US has long alleged that Huawei maintains a tight relationship with the Chinese government and that equipment from the company could be used to spy on other countries and companies. Huawei has repeatedly denied this.

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Still some governments have limited the use of Huawei's equipment or excluded the Chinese telecom equipment maker from their 5G development entirely. Canada's telecom providers have effectively locked out Huawei, while the UK has reversed its course on Huawei's involvement in British 5G networks after being pressed by the US to exclude it on grounds of national security.

5G is the next generation of wireless networks that has been rolling out across the world. It's live in a number of major US cities, as well as parts of China, South Korea and the UK, among other countries. The new technology it set to make downloads and uploads ultrafast, but it's also poised to power everything from self-driving cars to advanced augmented reality experiences.