Microsoft President Calls For US To End Huawei Ban

Microsoft President Brad Smith says the United States should end its blacklisting of Chinese giant Huawei Technologies.

Smith added that US national security would be not be undermined if the Chinese firm uses Redmond’s operating system and apps on its computers.

The comments from the Microsoft executive came as the Chinese firm launches its flagship smartphone, the Mate 30, in Europe using Google’s open source Android operating system, but it won’t have access to the Google Play Store or apps like YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps.

End the ban

This is because it is the first smartphone series from the Chinese vendor since it was placed on a trade blacklist by the United States back in May.

That placement on the US entity list, cut off Huawei from using US technology such as Google Apps, and may even result in it not being able to access the Android OS going forward.

And into this has stepped Microsoft, after its president Brad Smith called on the US to end a ban on it supplying Huawei with Windows software.

Brad Smith said he did not believe the US’s security would be “undermined” by letting Huawei’s customers use its operating system or Office apps.

“Governments around the world are going to address their national security needs,” he told BBC News.

“But we believe it would be a mistake at the same time to try to draw some new digital iron curtain down the Pacific Ocean – I think that would hold back the United States, would hold back the democracies of the world,” he said.

“We’re one of a number of companies that has applied with the US Commerce department so that we can continue to provide our software operating system to Huawei for devices like laptops,” Smith added.

No exceptions

Earlier this month the US Commerce Department said it had not issued any licences allowing companies to do business with Huawei, in spite of having received more than 130 applications.

“There may be some issues that require some approaches around 5G but one should ask whether that is the right approach for all of the equipment that a particular company might make,” Smith reportedly said.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had said in July his department would issue licences to exempt companies from the ban on selling technology to Huawei, as long as there was no “threat to US national security.”

Last week Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, offered to sell the firm’s 5G technology to a Western buyer, in order to allay national security concerns.

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Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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