Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Amid China tech advances, US national security is ‘foremost’: top Biden official

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Her testimony followed an apparent decision by her department to prohibit American tech titans Qualcomm and Intel from supplying their less advanced chips used in laptops and handsets to Huawei Technologies, a Chinese telecoms company.
In a filing submitted to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday, Intel said the Commerce Department had revoked “certain licenses for exports of consumer-related items to a customer in China” – without naming Huawei.
Consequently, Intel said it anticipated that its revenue for the second quarter of 2024 would stay within the initial projected range of US$12.5 billion to US$13.5 billion but below the midpoint.

The US Commerce Department has not publicly announced the decision, and it did not respond to a request for comment.

When asked on Wednesday to comment on the matter, Raimondo called Huawei a risk while refraining from offering direct remarks about either Qualcomm or Intel.

Still, she pledged to take further action. “While Huawei is a threat, AI is our focus,” the commerce secretary said. “As we get more data around our threats, we make changes to tighten screws, including revoking licenses that had been previously given.”

The decision arose after Huawei last month unveiled its first AI-enabled laptop, the MateBook X Pro, which runs on Intel’s newest processor, the Core Ultra 9.

Washington contends Huawei has strong connections to China’s Communist Party and could be used for spying on Americans and important US military and civilian systems.
On Wednesday, Raimondo said that she wakes up “every single day figuring out how we might tighten our controls to make sure that China cannot get access to our most sophisticated chips, AI, quantum” and other technology.
Chinese companies like Huawei Technologies have drawn greater scrutiny from the US amid rising tensions and distrust between the countries. Photo: ZB/dpa

In recent years, the US government has placed several Chinese companies, including Huawei, on multiple blacklists.

Beyond export restrictions, Biden signed an executive order last August prohibiting Americans from investing in sensitive technologies in China.

The president has vowed to implement measures to shield American manufacturers from Chinese state subsidies and the product gluts resulting from them.

“Because Chinese steel companies produce a lot more steel than China needs, [Beijing] ends up dumping the extra steel into the global markets at unfairly low prices,” Biden said last month at a campaign event. “They are cheating.”

Raimondo told lawmakers on Wednesday she “worried greatly” about the possibility of China hurting American manufacturers by dumping cheap products like electric vehicles, legacy chips and critical minerals.

The Commerce Department was working closely with the Office of the United States Trade Representative to “identify where are we most vulnerable and what actions could we take”, she added.

Raimondo alluded to a survey of China-made legacy chips in the US defence industrial base that her department announced months ago, saying commerce officials were trying to ascertain where such chips appear in American supply chains.

The search was on, she added, for “any evidence of China dropping the price, which would distort the market and make it impossible for US chip companies to compete”.

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