Last year Huawei
decided to sell its Honor sub-unit so that the division would not have to face the same U.S. bans as Huawei does. What the latter was afraid of was Honor being "guilty by association" in the eyes of the U.S. and thus unable to use the Google Mobile Services version of Android.
After getting sold to a consortium for a rumored $15 billion, Honor was no longer banned from using the Google Mobile Services version of the Android OS. Thus, the Honor 50 line, released domestically in June and rumored to be launched globally this coming week, is the first Honor phone to be equipped with Google's apps and mobile services
since Huawei was placed on the U.S. Entity List in May 2019.
14 House Republicans would like to see Honor added to the Entity List and face the same bans as Huawei
Huawei was placed on the list because of its close ties to the communist Chinese government which makes the firm a national security threat. The listing means that Huawei cannot access its U.S. supply chain and some would argue that U.S. tech firms were collateral damage since Huawei had spent an average of $12 billion a year for U.S. parts and was responsible for 40,000 U.S. jobs.
The global version of the Honor 50 series with Google Mobile Services and a Snapdragon chip will launch next week
Besides being put on the Entity List in May 2019, exactly a year to the day the U.S. made a change to its export rules that prevent foundries using American technology from shipping chips to Huawei without a license. As a result, Huawei only had a limited supply of its 5nm cutting-edge
Kirin 5G chip that it could use. Now that Honor is no longer handcuffed by the bans against Huawei, the Honor 50 series will be powered by Qualcomm's new by the new Snapdragon 778G chipset.
According to the South China Morning Post
, Honor isn't exactly home-free. 14 House Republicans asked the U.S. Commerce Department to take the same bans that have been applied on Huawei and place Honor under the same restrictions. Pointing out that Honor was spun out of Huawei, Republicans said in a letter that Huawei's decision to sell Honor was done "in an effort to evade US export control policies meant to keep US technology and software out of the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)."
Huawei's new flagship phone will not support 5G connectivity
Citing industry analysts, the letter said that "selling Honor gave it access to the semiconductor chips and software it relied on and would have presumably been blocked had the divestiture not gone through." The point that the GOP members who signed the letter are trying to make is that "the same concerns about technology exports to Honor when it was part of Huawei should apply under its current state-backed ownership structure."
Unless the Republicans can get the Honor brand placed on the Entity List, Huawei is going to continue to be worse off. For example, Huawei is not offering 5G connectivity with the latest version of its photography-based flagship series (the P50
line). That is because of the chip ban that was put into place by the Trump administration although to be fair, the Biden administration hasn't been that quick to reverse the bans.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has responded to the letter from the 14 Republicans. A spokesman said that the agency appreciates "the perspective of these members of Congress." The Commerce Department added that it "is continually reviewing available information to identify potential additions to the Entity List."