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China is still years behind the U.S. despite Huawei’s breakthrough chips, Raimondo tells ’60 Minutes’

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Sunday downplayed Huawei Technologies’ latest microchip breakthrough, arguing that the U.S. remains far ahead of China in the critical technology.
The comments, which were delivered on CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” align with her stance that the Biden administration’s restrictions on chip sales to China are working, despite an advanced made-in-China chip surfacing in a Huawei phone last year.
“It’s years behind what we have in the United States. We have the most sophisticated semiconductors in the world. China doesn’t. We’ve out-innovated China,” Raimondo said during the interview, which aired Sunday evening in the U.S.
U.S.-blacklisted Huawei released the Mate 60 Pro smartphone in August, which sported a 5G-capable chip — a feat thought to have been made difficult by a series of U.S. export controls in late 2022. The phone launched while Raimondo was on a visit to China.
Ahead of the trip, it was reported that Chinese-linked hackers accessed Raimondo’s email.
“I have their attention, clearly,” she said, adding that the U.S. would continue to pursue actions to protect U.S. national security and businesses.  
According to a senior Commerce Department official, Huawei’s chipmaking partner SMIC “potentially” violated U.S. law by providing an advanced chip to the Chinese phone maker.
Since the release of the Mate 60 Pro, the U.S. has further tightened restrictions on sales of advanced semiconductor tech to China.
Chinese officials have repeatedly denounced the policies, which require licenses for any company worldwide to sell products with advanced U.S.-designed chip technology to countries seen as adversaries.
Many U.S. chip companies, which largely rely on China for business, have also expressed concerns about losing market access.  
“We want to trade with China on the vast majority of goods and services,” Raimondo said. “But on those technologies that affect our national security, no.”
The global chip race ramped up after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, triggering the U.S. and allies such as the Netherlands and Japan to tighten advanced tech export controls. CNBC previously reported that Russia acquired advanced Western technology through intermediary countries like China.
“It’s absolutely the case that our export controls have hurt [Russia’s] ability to conduct the war, made it harder,” Raimondo said. She added that Russia has found some alternative sources of chips.
The Commerce Department has also overseen the allocation of the Biden administration’s almost $53 billion CHIPS and Science Act, aimed at building the U.S. domestic semiconductor industry and undercutting rivals like China.
In recent weeks, billions in grants and loans have been earmarked for chipmakers Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Samsung Electronics and Micron Technology, which are all increasing production capacity in the U.S.
Raimondo told CNBC earlier this month that all of the grant money allocated for the CHIPS and Science Act will be sent out by year-end.
Apr 23, 2024 13:09
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