US eases curbs on Huawei; ban downplays firm's strength, says CEO

US officials have issued a 90-day reprieve on their ban on dealing with Chinese tech giant Huawei, saying breathing space was needed to avoid huge disruption.

A Commerce Department filing said the delay does not change the ban imposed by US President Donald Trump on national security grounds, an action with major implications for US and Chinese technology firms. Instead, it grants a temporary license that will allow Huawei to continue doing business with American firms.

“The Temporary General License grants operators time to make other arrangements and (gives) the Department space to determine the appropriate long term measures for Americans and foreign telecommunications providers that currently rely on Huawei equipment for critical services,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.

“In short, this license will allow operations to continue for existing Huawei mobile phone users and rural broadband networks.” The Huawei confrontation has been building for years, as the world's largest company has raced to a huge advantage over rivals in next-generation 5G mobile technology.

Meanwhile, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei on Tuesday downplayed the impact of the US executive order against his firm, saying Washington “underestimates" the telecom giant's strength and other countries would take two to three years to catch-up with it in the next-generation 5G technology.

US Commerce Department said on Monday that the delay does not change the ban imposed by President Donald Trump on Huawei, a move which will have a major implication for American and Chinese technology firms.

Speaking to state-run China Central Television, Ren, whose daughter and CFO of Huawei Meng Wanzhou has been arrested in Canada to face prosecution for violations of American sanctions against Iran, expressed his resentment over the ban.

“The current practice of US politicians underestimates our strength,” Ren said.

“Huawei's 5G will absolutely not be affected. In terms of 5G technologies, others won't be able to catch up with Huawei in two or three years,” he said.