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  • Marijan Hassan - Tech Journalist

US Republicans demand full sanctions and criminal charges against Huawei and SMIC

US lawmakers aligned to the Republican party are calling upon the Commerce Department to impose "full blocking sanctions" on Huawei and SMIC, along with pressing criminal charges against their executives following the release of Huawei Mate 60 Pro.

In a joint letter signed by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul and nine other Republicans, the lawmakers express their concerns that Huawei's Mate 60 Pro smartphone, equipped with advanced 7-nanometer chips, appears to have violated US export control restrictions.

The letter outlines seven proposed measures. These include the revocation of all existing export licenses for Huawei and SMIC. They express frustration with the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) for failing to effectively establish and enforce export control rules, particularly concerning Chinese entities.

"For more than two years, our committees and numerous members of Congress have written to you regarding loopholes in BIS rules attempting, unsuccessfully, to restrict technology to Huawei and SMIC, among others. Despite this knowledge and continued Congressional pressure to adopt stricter policies, BIS has continued to grant licenses to Chinese Communist Party (CCP) controlled companies, such as SMIC, worth hundreds of billions of dollars," the letter reads in part.

Huawei and SMIC are yet to comment on the matter.

The United States had previously placed Huawei and SMIC on a trade blacklist in 2019 and 2020, respectively, citing national security concerns. Subsequently, US suppliers were required to obtain special licenses to provide goods to these companies.

The Huawei Mate 60 Pro, unveiled recently during the visit of US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to China, features an advanced processor capable of supporting 5G technology. The smartphone's high-end capabilities have raised questions about the efficacy of President Joe Biden's efforts to curb China's development of advanced chips.

Earlier this month, Republican Mike Gallagher, chair of the House committee on China, called for a halt to all technology exports to Huawei and SMIC.

The Commerce Department has stated that it is assessing the capabilities of this new chip. In a recent statement, the department emphasized, "Let's be clear: Export controls are just one tool in the US government's toolbox to address the national security threats presented by the People's Republic of China (PRC)."


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