WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN), a member of the Senate Banking and Foreign Relations Committees, yesterday pressed Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Thea Rozman Kendler on the Biden Administration’s reported delay of a far-reaching measure to revoke U.S. export licenses related to Huawei Technologies, the Chinese state-directed telecommunications company that seeks to dominate 5G, cloud computing services, and other next-general technological domains.
At a Senate Banking Committee hearing, Hagerty confronted Assistant Secretary Kendler about a blockbuster May 2023 Reuters news report that revealed “the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security had prepared rules to revoke Huawei-related export control licenses, even those covering less sensitive technology,” but the Biden Administration “held back human rights-related sanctions, export controls and other sensitive actions to try to limit damage to the U.S.-China relationship” after the China spy balloon incident.
In response, Assistant Secretary Kendler admitted “we do not have a draft rule in place at this time.”
“Can you tell me if you’ve received any guidance from within the Commerce Department or from anywhere in the interagency to back off and not do this?” Hagerty asked.
Assistant Secretary Kendler dodged the question by claiming, “We are working closely, and we are under deep analysis of this issue.”
“When I served as U.S. Ambassador in Japan, I worked very closely with the ‘kitchen cabinet’ of Japanese government leaders and Japanese business leaders to understand the threat of Huawei and what they could do in the 5G arena,” Hagerty noted. “I took my analysis back to Washington. I met with the President. We put a lot of pressure on the situation and persuaded [the U.S.] government to take action against Huawei and 5G. I did the same with the government of Japan to get Huawei out of 5G.”
“I am very concerned to see this Administration basically back off and kowtow just so they can obtain high-level meetings with officials in China. This makes no sense. We should be speaking from a position of strength, not weakness, and this backing off is absolutely unacceptable,” Hagerty concluded. The hearing comes after Hagerty led Senate colleagues in sending an April 2023 letter to urge the Biden Administration to expand sanctions and export controls against Huawei Cloud, a subsidiary company of Huawei Technologies, and other China-based cloud computing service providers. Hagerty also implored Commerce Secretary Raimondo to take further action against Huawei Cloud during a recent Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.