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  • Writer's pictureJamal Saafir

United States Government Investigating China’s Landmark Smartphone

According to a report from CNN, the United States government is looking to gather more information on the Huawei Mate 60 Pro, a Chinese smartphone powered by an advanced chip.

The new flagship device, which reportedly includes a new 5G Kirin 9000s processor created specifically for Chinese manufacturer Huawei, recently amazed industry experts who were baffled by the company having the technology to develop such a chip after a host of efforts by the United States to restrict China’s access to foreign chip technology.

United States National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said during a White House press briefing on September 5th that the US needs “more information about precisely its character and composition” to determine if parties evaded American restrictions on semiconductor exports to develop the chip.

In 2019, the government banned US companies from selling software and equipment to Huawei and restricted international chipmakers using US-made technology from partnering with Huawei. The government referenced seemingly national security worries, such as the possibility of cyberattacks or spying from the Chinese government. The inclusion of a custom-built 5G chip would be a major benchmark for Huawei as it grapples with the impact of the US restrictions on its device business.

“I think the reaction in China seems to be one of mass excitement because Huawei, which was at one time vying to be the number one smartphone brand worldwide, is seen to be fighting its way back into the smartphone market with Chinese-made silicon, and has no doubt been trading on a ‘Made In China’ mantra,” David McQueen, a director at market research firm ABI Research, told CNN.

But he said the launch also presents queries regarding Huawei's ability to launch the phone when the past four years were spent under US restrictions banning access to 5G technology.

“While access to 5G for the chipset is one thing, I’m not sure how the company managed to source all the other components that need to go into a 5G smartphone, such as power amps, switches and filters,” he said.

According to CNN, when Huawei unveiled the Mate 60 Pro smartphone late last month, it did not include much information about the chip on its website product page, beyond that it promises a better communication experience and a more stable network connection.

But a week ago, consultant firm TechInsights did a breakdown of the Mate 60 to get a closer look at the chip, which appeared to be a 7-nanometer processor made by China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC).

SMIC, which is a partially state-owned Chinese company, was a party to the export restrictions put in place by the United States government several years ago.

National Security Adviser Sullivan added that the United States “should continue on its course of a ‘small yard, high fence’ set of technology restrictions focused narrowly on national security concerns … regardless of the outcome.”

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