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  • Writer's pictureAmChamUS

Double Standards with Huawei

As early as 2016, U.S. telecommunications company AT&T acknowledged it was providing voice and data service in Iran to its customers with American phones through a partnership with a local firm, RighTel.

In a landmark accord, economic sanctions were lifted against Iran and paved the way for Boeing and Iran Air to reach an agreement for 80 aircraft valued at $8 billion USD.

But the two Huawei packing lists, dated December 2010, which included computer equipment made by Hewlett-Packard, and destined for an Iranian telecommunications carrier, are what have gotten the Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer in trouble over the last few years.

Not actual telecommunications equipment or services that could add to the Iranian regime like AT&T. Not airplanes or heavy equipment that could bolster the Middle East country’s own capabilities like Boeing.

Not weapons or armaments of any kind that could be used for military purposes.

Normal computers from Hewlett-Packard like one would buy at Target or Best Buy stores.

Not even Huawei-made machinery.

We’re talking about computer equipment.

Internal company records from China’s Huawei Technologies, which has always denied violating American trade sanctions on Iran, show it was involved in sending U.S. computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator.

The double standards employed by the United States against Huawei could not be more evident, and severely undermines the principles of free trade the U.S. so ardently strives to adhere to.

Yet Huawei has been repeatedly penalized for its actions.

AmChamUSA always supports free tree. But does this sound like free trade to you?

The U.S. Commerce Department announced sanctions in August 2020 that restrict any foreign semiconductor company from selling chips developed or produced using U.S. software or technology to Huawei, without first obtaining a license to do so.

Restrictions announced in May 2020 had already limited companies from making and supplying Huawei with chips designed by HiSilicon, a subsidiary of the Chinese company.

All this in response to Huawei sending U.S. computer equipment to Iran.

Since 1979, the United States has led international efforts to use sanctions to influence Iran's policies. By March 2010, the U.S. renewed a ban on trade and investment with Iran, and in July 2010, Congress passed additional actions targeting Iran’s energy sector.

For Huawei, it’s not nuclear weapons or state-sponsored terrorism. It’s computer equipment.

We’re talking about computer equipment.

A state’s ability independently to formulate policies of trade is a derivative of the principle of sovereignty, and reflects the right of a state to determine its own destiny free from the interference of other nations.

In addition to treaties and the United Nations Charter, several U.N. general assembly resolutions have addressed the issue of coercive economic conduct, specifically economic sanctions and trade embargoes, which the U.S. has routinely used to secure its own interests against foreign governments.

These kinds of sanctions fall outside the parameters of legitimate retorsion.

Legitimizing the sanctions against Huawei as a reprisal would require that the U.S. show that Huawei previously had violated international law in an action against the U.S., that the U.S. had no other available means of redress, and that the sanctions were proportionate to the wrongful act committed against the U.S.

Remember, we’re still talking about computer equipment.

All while U.S. companies are allowed to engage with Iran in the same manner as Huawei.

Where are the sanctions against AT&T and Boeing?

With Huawei, the U.S. is unilaterally telling a sovereign nation which countries it can do business with. If the U.S. wants to maintain its standing in the family of nations, AmChamUSA believes it should eliminate hypocritical sanctions from its foreign policy playbook.

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