The logo of China's tech giant Huawei. (Photo: Xinhua)
The US decided to prolong the public comment period on Huawei's proposed license extension, displaying the importance of the Chinese tech giant to US businesses amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the US, industry analysts said.
Insiders said the move also showed the US has realized it needs Huawei's telecom equipment, though it is now mainly used in the rural areas, to keep the internet running smoothly while the pandemic has confined most to stay home and work online.
On Wednesday, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) under the US Department of Commerce announced it would lengthen the public comment period on Huawei's Temporary General License (TGL) extensions - a license that allows US companies to continue doing business with Huawei - through April 22.
BIS said the extension was made as it has "received requests from industry to allow for additional comments, and is granting this request in support of robust consideration of future extensions of the TGL."
"The US is buying time for itself as it needs Huawei and other firms in China to help it fight the coronavirus pandemic," Xiang Ligang, a veteran industry analyst, told the Global Times on Thursday.
It also reveals the divided views among US politicians and industry players - US companies need advanced technology and services from companies like Huawei, , said Xiang.
The public comment extension comes as COVID-19 cases rise sharply in the US, with the country's pandemic-caused death toll hitting over 1,000 on Thursday.
Fu Liang, a Beijing-based telecoms industry expert, cautioned that the extension could be a temporary move because of the shock of the pandemic and will not have any practical impact on the US' ultimate decision.
"The US, which has been using Huawei as a weapon in its trade war with China over the past year, will not easily cease its crackdown on high-tech Chinese firms including Huawei," Fu said.
On February 14, the US issued a fourth extension for Huawei, delaying its supplies ban until May 15. BIS has said the extension will remain effective until that date. Huawei was added to a US economic blacklist in May last year, with US national security concerns cited.
The Trump administration has been urging its allies to bar Huawei from the construction of 5G networks.