U.S. Department of Defense Says It Cannot Do Without Huawei Equipment and Seeks Exemption

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. Department of Defense is in a dilemma: on one hand, a law enacted in 2019 prohibits U.S. government agencies from contracting with companies that use Huawei equipment; on the other hand, Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications equipment provider and is deeply rooted in many countries, making it almost impossible to find alternatives.

The Pentagon has been seeking an exemption to bypass the restrictions of Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. They believe that these restrictions will seriously impact the Department of Defense’s ability to procure various logistical supplies such as medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, and clothing. A former Department of Defense official stated that the intent of the act was good, but it did not fully consider the difficulties at the implementation level and the actual impact, as it is impossible to avoid Huawei equipment in some countries. If this issue is not resolved, it could jeopardize national security.

Huawei’s market share in telecommunication industry

However, so far, the U.S. House and Senate committees responsible for legislation have not included an exemption clause in the upcoming 2025 National Defense Authorization Act.

The U.S. previously pressured the UAE to dismantle Huawei equipment, and as the latter refused, the agreement for the country to purchase F-35 fighter jets was suspended. Similar situations have also occurred in Saudi Arabia and some Latin American countries, where some countries believe that the U.S. and its allies cannot provide alternatives that are more competitive in price.

Some hardline figures on China have criticized the Pentagon for not being proactive enough, arguing that they should use their massive procurement scale to force relevant companies to change. However, the Pentagon insists that an exemption is crucial, as it will ensure the smooth execution of important supply missions in the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and Africa. U.S. military personnel working in many places rely on Huawei networks, such as special forces executing missions in Africa and senior Pentagon officials attending the Paris Air Show.

A Pentagon spokesperson said that the exemption would only be used for procurements that align with U.S. national security interests, and intelligence agencies would continue to be restricted. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee also acknowledged that an exemption might be needed in certain cases, but he did not reveal a specific timeline.