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US Lawmakers’ Fury Over Huawei’s Intel AI Chip-Powered Laptop

Republicans have hit out at the Biden administration over continuing supplies of high-end American tech to China

The Huawei logo. File photo: Kacper Pempel, Reuters.


Chinese tech giant Huawei’s unveiling of its new MateBook X Pro laptop has left US Republican lawmakers fuming after it was revealed to be powered by an Intel AI chip.

The United States placed Huawei on a trade restriction list in 2019 for violating Iran sanctions, part of a broader effort to hobble Beijing’s technological advances. Placement on the list means the company’s suppliers have to seek a special, difficult-to-obtain licence before shipping to it.

One such licence, issued by the Trump administration, has allowed Intel to ship central processors to Huawei for use in laptops since 2020. 


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China hardliners had urged the Biden administration to revoke that licence, but many grudgingly accepted that it would expire later this year and not be renewed.

Huawei’s unveiling, though, of its first AI-enabled laptop, the MateBook X Pro powered by Intel’s new Core Ultra 9 processor, shocked and angered the US politicians because it suggested to them that the US Commerce Department had approved shipments of the new chip to Huawei.

“One of the greatest mysteries in Washington is why the Department of Commerce continues to allow US technology to be shipped to Huawei,” Republican Congressman Michael Gallagher, who chairs the House of Representatives select committee on China, said.

A source familiar with the matter said the chips were shipped under a preexisting licence. They are not covered by recent broad-cased restrictions on AI chip shipments to China, the added.

The reaction is a sign of growing pressure on the Biden administration to do more to thwart Huawei’s rise, nearly five years after it was added to a trade restriction list.


Frustrated China Hawks

In August, it shocked the world with a new phone powered by a sophisticated chip manufactured by sanctioned Chinese chipmaker SMIC, becoming a symbol of China’s technological resurgence despite Washington’s ongoing efforts to cripple its capacity to produce advanced semiconductors.

At a Senate subcommittee hearing this week, Kevin Kurland, an export enforcement official, said Washington’s restrictions on Huawei have had a “significant impact” on its access to US technology. 

He also stressed that the goal was not necessarily to stop Huawei from growing but to keep it from misusing US technology for “malign activities.”

But the remarks did little to stem frustration among Republican China hawks following the news about Huawei’s new laptop.

“These approvals must stop,” Republican congressman Michael McCaul said in a statement to Reuters. “Two years ago, I was told licences to Huawei would stop. Today, it doesn’t seem as though the policy has changed.”


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

Huawei Signals New High-End Smartphone After Mate 60 Success

Huawei Faces Trial in US for Iran Dealings, Trade Secrets

Huawei Profits Jump 144% in Fastest Growth Since US Sanctions

Huawei’s HarmonyOS Set to Overtake Apple iOS in China – Fortune

Intel Can Keep Selling Chips to Huawei Despite AMD Protests



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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