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Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith says the way the U.S. government is treating Huawei is un-American. As far as he knows, China’s leading maker of networking equipment and mobile phones should be allowed to buy U.S. technology, including software from his company. Such actions shouldn’t be taken without a “sound basis, in fact, logic, and the rule of law,” says Smith in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, adding that Microsoft has asked U.S. regulators to explain themselves. “Oftentimes, what we get in response is, ‘Well, if you knew what we knew, you would agree with us,’” he says. “And our answer is, ‘Great, show us what you know so we can decide for ourselves. That’s the way this country works.’” U.S. President Donald Trump has said Huawei, run by a former Chinese army technologist, is a national security threat, and his Department of Commerce has added the company to an export blacklist scheduled to take full effect in November. Trump should know better, Smith says, citing Trump’s experience in the hotel industry. “To tell a tech company that it can sell products, but not buy an operating system or chips, is like telling a hotel company that it can open its doors, but not put beds in its hotel rooms or food in its restaurant. Either way, you put the survival of that company at risk.” Book cover of Tools and Weapons: The Promise and the Peril of the Digital Age by Brad Smith Why, yes, Huawei is a key customer for Microsoft’s Windows operating system, which comes loaded on its branded consumer laptops. Four years ago, Smith and Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping at Microsoft for a photo op with tech leaders including Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. That probably won’t happen again. Follow along on OUR FORUM.

 

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