The United States Commerce Secretary, Gina Raimondo, stated on Tuesday that the US has no evidence to suggest that Chinese manufacturer Huawei is capable of producing smartphones with advanced chips on a large scale. Raimondo’s comments came after Huawei recently released its Mate 60 Pro phone, which is believed to contain a chip manufactured by Chinese chip foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) using innovative technology.
Raimondo, speaking at a US House hearing, expressed doubts about Huawei’s ability to manufacture seven-nanometer chips at scale, referring to an advanced chip technology. In 2019, the US restricted Huawei’s access to certain chipmaking tools, citing security concerns, a claim that Huawei denies. The US government has argued that Huawei poses an “unacceptable” risk to national security due to the potential threat of spying on US telecommunications networks.
The US Commerce Department has announced its intention to gather more information about the composition and characteristics of the chip used in the Huawei Mate 60 Pro. The department suspects that the chip may violate US trade restrictions if it was made using US technology. Raimondo expressed her frustration with the reports about Huawei’s advanced smartphone, while some Republicans believe that all technology exports to Huawei and SMIC should be banned.
The chairs of several House committees have urged the Commerce Department to halt the issuance of licenses to Huawei and SMIC. They also called for increased US pressure and more effective export controls on adversaries. Raimondo did not comment on whether she was considering terminating all licenses for Huawei. Republican Representative Darrell Issa highlighted Raimondo’s presence in China during the announcement of the new Huawei phone, suggesting that she was caught off guard.
The White House National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, confirmed that the US government is seeking more information about the Huawei chip. Raimondo also expressed concern about reports suggesting that the Chinese government is restricting the use of Apple’s iPhones by some officials.