Bluster is a key weapon in the trade war between the U.S. and China. So it’s natural to want to dismiss the latest salvo—a U.S. Department of Commerce ban on doing business with Chinese national champion technology company Huawei—as another short-term negotiation tactic of the Trump administration. Even if that’s what it is, however, the ramifications likely won’t stop with a trade resolution.
If carried out to its full extent, the U.S. government’s blacklist could temporarily hobble Huawei Technologies Co., which relies on parts and software from American companies such as Qualcomm Inc. and Google to build and market the 200 million mobile phones it ships annually, plus the billions of dollars’ worth of networking gear it sells globally. But it could also disrupt the supply chain permanently. Alex Capri, a senior fellow at the Business School of the National University of Singapore and onetime U.S. customs official, puts it bluntly:
“Long-held relationships between supplier networks and global ecosystems will fall apart,” he says. “Markets will fragment, and there will be a decoupling of China and the U.S. into two distinct tech supply chains.”
It’s unclear how long the blacklist will last. When President Trump pulled a similar stunt during last year’s trade talks—banning the other big Chinese telecom, ZTE Corp., from doing business with American companies—the restr