House Republican lawmakers urge US crackdown on Huawei, SMIC

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -A group of senior U.S. House Republicans on Thursday urged the Biden administration to crack down on Huawei and China’s top semiconductor firm Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) after reports suggested Huawei has developed an advanced smartphone.

The lawmakers – including the chairs of the House Foreign Affairs, Energy and Commerce, Armed Services, and select China committees – urged the Commerce Department to stop granting licenses to Chinese government-controlled companies such as SMIC, and said it called for additional U.S. pressure “and more effective export controls on our adversaries.”

The letter led by Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul called on the administration “to strategically bar the import of SMIC-produced semiconductors, particularly those that pose risks to national security, into the United States,” and for the administration to “pursue criminal charges against executives from SMIC and Huawei.”

Huawei and SMIC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Commerce Department, which did not immediately comment on the letter, said last week it is working to obtain more information “on the character and composition” of the chip that may violate trade restrictions.

“The restrictions in place since 2019 have knocked Huawei down and forced it to reinvent itself — at a substantial cost to the (Chinese) government,” the department said.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said last week the U.S. government is trying to get more information about the Huawei chip.

Earlier this month Representative Mike Gallagher, who heads the China committee, said the Commerce Department should end all technology exports to Huawei and SMIC.

Huawei recently started selling a phone called the Mate 60 Pro. The phone contains a chip that analysts believe was made with a technology breakthrough by SMIC.

Huawei was placed on a trade blacklist in May 2019 over national security concerns, forcing its U.S. suppliers and others to obtain a special license to ship goods to it. SMIC was added to the so-called entity list in December 2020 over fears it could divert advanced technology to military users.

Suppliers to Huawei and SMIC have received billions of dollars’ worth of licenses to sell U.S. technology to the companies despite their being on the trade lists, Reuters has previously reported. About 90% of the licenses were for sales to SMIC.

The House letter asked Commerce to “revoke all existing licenses for SMIC and Huawei.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Chris Reese)