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Huawei crackdown

Huawei's voice in future tech standards restricted

Membership limited or suspended in associations for Wi-Fi, SD cards and chips

Huawei Technologies suffered yet another setback on Friday in its battle against Washington (Nikkei Montage / Reuters)

NEW YORK/TAIPEI -- Huawei Technologies on Friday suffered another setback in its battle against Washington's technology offensive after its access to several global standards-setting bodies was curtailed.

The Wi-Fi Alliance, which sets the standards for wireless technology and whose members include Apple, Qualcomm, Broadcom and Intel, said it had "temporarily restricted" Huawei's participation in activities covered by Washington's blacklisting last week of the Chinese tech giant.

Meanwhile, JEDEC -- which sets semiconductor standards and counts global chipmakers Qualcomm, Xilinx, Samsung Semiconductor, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., SK Hynix and Toshiba Memory among its ranks, as well as tech giants such as HP and Cisco -- told Nikkei Asian Review that Huawei had voluntarily decided to withdraw membership.

Frank Yang, Huawei's representative and vice-chairman at large of JEDEC, was listed as a director of JEDEC as of May 24, according to the agency's website.

"On May 17, 2019, Huawei Technologies notified JEDEC that it had decided to voluntarily suspend its membership in JEDEC until the restrictions imposed by the U.S. government are removed," a JEDEC spokesperson told Nikkei.

Huawei also has disappeared from the member list of the SD Association, which is known for developing the standards of the SD Card, the most popular memory card format used in portable devices.

"The SD Association is complying with U.S. Department of Commerce orders," the group told Nikkei in a statement on Friday.

The moves deliver a serious blow to Huawei, which will not have a say in the debate on standards for future technology development as long as its membership is suspended or curtailed.

"Huawei values its relationships with all partners and associations around the world and understands the difficult situation they are in," a company spokesperson said in a statement to Nikkei. "We are hopeful this situation will be resolved and are working to find the best solution."

Standards-setting bodies have become new global battlegrounds, where industry players fight to influence technology development in their favor. Exclusion could put Huawei at a disadvantage when expanding its overseas business.

"Those alliances and consortiums are mostly for big, deep-pocketed western companies to show their muscle and to make contributions when the new standards are formulated," a senior chip industry executive, whose company is in both consortiums, told Nikkei.

Huawei could still develop those related chips and products, as those standards are open to the whole industry, the executive said, but the Chinese company would no longer have a say in crafting those western standards.

"They could always develop their own standards within China," the executive said. "But if you are going overseas and link to other people's network, you need to accept the standards that everyone else is adopting worldwide."

The revelation regarding Huawei's status in leading global open standard alliances cast another shadow on the Chinese company's already difficult situation after the Trump administration last week added it to Washington's "Entity List," which restricts sales of products that include a certain level of U.S. technology.

The move has caused turbulence in Huawei's global supply chain. Many of Huawei's U.S. suppliers -- such as Micron, Qorvo and Lumentum -- revealed they had suspended deliveries to the Chinese company in order to comply with the new rule, while some non-U.S. businesses such as Infineon Technologies, Panasonic and Arm Holdings also stopped certain deliveries to Huawei to avoid incurring penalties.

The intensifying trade tensions between the U.S. and China could deepen the growing technological divide between the world's two biggest economies, market watchers said.

"It is foreseeable that Chinese tech companies will choose not to join the technology alliances led by the U.S. in the future," amid the ripple effect of the ban on Huawei, Jonah Cheng, chief investment officer at J & J Investment, and a former veteran tech analyst at UBS, told Nikkei.

Apart from the possibility that China would develop its own standards, it would be more attractive to Chinese companies to join the open standard-setting alliances led by the European Union or Japan rather than those led by the Americans, Cheng said.

Taiwan's TechNews first reported on Wednesday that JEDEC had suspended Huawei's participation in the alliance's activities.

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