Trump administration to meet on Huawei export curbs after Pentagon pushback: sources

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is planning to meet later this month to discuss efforts to further limit exports to China and its flagship telecoms company Huawei, as it seeks to keep state-of-the-art U.S. technology out of the hands of adversaries, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The gathering, currently scheduled for Feb. 28, will bring together policymakers to hammer out differences after the U.S. Commerce Department withdrew a rule aimed at further reducing foreign shipments to Huawei Technologies amid pushback from the Pentagon, one of the people said.

The meeting, which is expected to include high-level officials from the Commerce, Defense, State and Energy Departments, is aimed at resolving disagreements over how best to approach the blacklisted Chinese company and the broader war with China over technological dominance.

Some in the Trump administration favor close trade ties with Beijing while others see China and Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker, as serious threats to national security.

The agencies did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Commerce Department in May placed Huawei on a trade blacklist, citing national security concerns. That allowed the U.S. government to restrict sales of American-made goods to the company and a small number of items made abroad that contain U.S. technology.

Under current regulations, key foreign supply chains remain beyond the reach of U.S. authorities, which fueled frustration among China hawks and prompted a push to expand U.S. authority to block more shipments to Huawei.

But a draft rule by the Commerce Department to expand its authority to block more shipments to Huawei — first reported by Reuters in November — was stymied by opposition from the Pentagon last month over concerns about harm to U.S. interests. The Treasury Department also pushed back against the measure, sources said.

In an unusual move, Commerce withdrew the rule from the inter-agency review process, pending a meeting of principals to resolve differences.

The gathering comes amid a deepening tech war between the United States and China. The Trump administration is trying to keep sensitive technologies that could be used to thwart American interests beyond the reach of Beijing, by cracking down on exports and limiting Chinese investment in key U.S. sectors.

Reuters reported in December that the Commerce Department was finalizing rules to limit tech exports to adversaries while the Treasury Department has issued new rules to beef up scrutiny of foreign investment in the United States.

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