Microsoft Corporation received licence to do business with China’s Huawei Technologies Company, a step that lets the software giant continue selling some of its most important products to the Asian tech giant that was blacklisted by the US government earlier this year, reported Bloomberg.
In a statement, the Washington-based company said, “On 20 November 2019, the US Department of Commerce granted Microsoft’s request for a licence to export mass-market software to Huawei.” However, it is not immediately clear how ‘mass-market’ is defined in the licence. Microsoft sells Windows and Office software to Huawei.
“We’ve had 290-something requests for specific licences, we’ve now been starting to send out the 20-day intent-to-deny letters and some approvals,” said Wilbur Ross, the US’s Commerce Secretary.
In May 2019, the US added Huawei to an entity list to block US companies from selling components to China’s largest technology company, which it accuses of threatening America’s national security.
The entity listing requires US firms to get a government licence to sell to blacklisted firms. The move has dented revenue at some US companies and sown confusion about what is allowed and what is not. Technology industry leaders and their lawyers have been pushing for clarity for months now.
Microsoft President Brad Smith complained in September 2019 that the US was treating Huawei unfairly and refusing to explain why Huawei shouldn’t be allowed to purchase US technology, including Microsoft software.
A bipartisan group of senators requested that US President Donald Trump suspend the approval of licences. “Doing business with Huawei poses a serious threat to US telecommunications infrastructure and national security more broadly,” said the lawmakers. They also asked that Congress be given a report outlining the criteria for determining whether or not each licence would pose a threat.