Senior U.S. Senator Asks U.S. Companies About Exporting Hard Drives to Huawei

A senior U.S. senator has asked U.S. companies about exports of hard disk drives to Chinese telecom giant Huawei to find out if rules restricting exports of U.S. technology products to Huawei are being effectively enforced.

Reuters reported that U.S. Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Commerce Committee, asked Toshiba America Electronic Components, Seagate Technology and Western Digital Corp. Technology and Western Digital Corp. to answer whether they improperly provided foreign-made hard drives to Huawei.

Senator Wicker said a regulation issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2020 calls for “tightening restrictions on Huawei’s ability to purchase direct products of specific U.S. technologies or software, such as hard drives. Wicker said he was “in the process of learning whether major global suppliers of hard disk drives are enforcing” the rule.

In a statement provided to Reuters, Western Digital said the company “stopped shipping to Huawei in mid-September 2020 to implement the new regulations issued by the Department of Commerce. We requested permission to supply to Huawei in September 2020. Our application remains pending.”

Wicker asked the companies whether they believed the rule “prohibits the shipment of hard disk drives to Huawei and any of its subsidiaries without a license,” and asked about the status of all license applications that include the supply of products to Huawei.

In her letter, Wicker also copied U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, encouraging her to take action against companies found to have circumvented any provision of the rule, citing Huawei’s “serious harm” to the national security of the United States.

In August 2020, then-President Trump added 38 Huawei subsidiaries in 21 countries to the U.S. government’s economic blacklist, bringing the total number of Huawei subsidiaries included in this list of entities to 152. Huawei was first placed on the list of entities in May 2019.

The U.S. government has asked governments around the world to exclude Huawei on the grounds that it would hand over data to the Chinese government for surveillance purposes. Huawei denies this.