US lawmakers angry after Huawei unveils laptop with new Intel AI chip

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

The US put Huawei on a trade sanctions list in 2019 for violating Iran sanctions, part of a broader effort to curb Beijing’s technological development. Placement on the list means a special, hard-to-obtain license must be obtained before the company’s suppliers can ship to it.

One such license issued by the Trump administration allows Intel to ship central processors to Huawei for use in laptops starting in 2020. China hardliners had urged the Biden administration to revoke the license, but many grudgingly accepted that it would expire at the end of this year. Not to be renewed.

Huawei’s Thursday unveiling of its first AI-powered laptop, the MateBook X Pro powered by Intel’s new Core Ultra 9 processor, surprised and angered them, as it suggested the Commerce Department had given Huawei The shipment of the new chip has been approved.

“One of the biggest mysteries in Washington, D.C. is why the Commerce Department allows US technology to go to Huawei,” said 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. Recent widespread restrictions on AI chip shipments to China are not covered, the source and another person said.

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

The response is a sign of mounting pressure on the Biden administration to do more to curb Huawei’s rise, nearly five years after it was placed on the trade sanctions list.

In August, it shocked the world with a new phone powered by a state-of-the-art chip made by approved Chinese chipmaker SMIC, a Washington-based manufacturer of advanced semiconductors. has become a symbol of China’s technological recovery despite ongoing efforts to weaken its capacity to do so.

At a Senate subcommittee hearing this week, Kevin Kurland, an export enforcement official, said Washington’s ban on Huawei had a “significant impact” on access to American technology. He also emphasized that the goal was not necessarily to prevent Huawei from growing, but to prevent it from misappropriating American technology.

But the remarks did little to assuage frustration among Republican Chinahawks following news of Huawei’s new laptop.

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

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Karen Freefeld; Editing by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates)

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