May 21, 2024

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US lawmakers were outraged after Huawei unveiled a laptop with a new Intel AI chip

US lawmakers were outraged after Huawei unveiled a laptop with a new Intel AI chip

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Republican lawmakers on Friday criticized the Biden administration after sanctioned Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei unveiled a laptop this week powered by an Intel AI chip.

The United States placed Huawei on its trade restrictions list in 2019 for violating sanctions on Iran, as part of a broader effort to restrict Beijing's technological progress. Being listed means the company's suppliers have to seek a special, hard-to-obtain license before shipping to it.

One such license, issued by the Trump administration, has allowed Intel to ship central processors to Huawei for use in laptops since 2020. Hardliners in China have urged the Biden administration to revoke that license, but many have reluctantly accepted that it will expire later in the year. this year. It is not renewed.

Huawei's unveiling on Thursday of its first AI laptop, the MateBook

“One of the biggest mysteries in Washington, D.C., is why the Commerce Department continues to allow the shipment of US technology to Huawei,” Republican Congressman Michael Gallagher, who chairs the House Select Committee on China, said in a statement to Reuters.

A source familiar with the matter said the chips were shipped under a pre-existing license. These restrictions are not included in recent widespread restrictions imposed on shipments of artificial intelligence chips to China, the source and another person said.

The Commerce Department and Intel declined to comment. Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The reaction is a sign of growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to thwart Huawei's rise, nearly five years after it was added to a list of trade restrictions.

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In August, it shocked the world with a new phone powered by an advanced chip manufactured by the sanctioned Chinese chip manufacturing company SMIC, becoming a symbol of China's technological renaissance despite Washington's continuing efforts to cripple its ability to produce advanced semiconductors.

At a Senate subcommittee hearing this week, export enforcement official Kevin Kurland said Washington's restrictions on Huawei had had a “significant impact” on its access to US technology. He also stressed that the goal was not necessarily to prevent Huawei from growing, but rather to prevent it from misusing American technology for “malicious activities.”

But these statements did little to calm frustration among Republican hawks in China after the news about Huawei's new laptop.

“These approvals must stop,” Republican Congressman Michael McCaul said in a statement to Reuters. “Two years ago, I was told that licenses to Huawei would stop. Today, the policy does not seem to have changed.”

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Karin Freefield; Editing by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates)