China is still years behind the U.S. despite Huawei’s breakthrough chips, Raimondo tells ’60 Minutes’


WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 25: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo listens as U.S. President Joe Biden participates virtually in a meeting on the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act, in the South Court Auditorium at the White House on July 25, 2022 in Washington, DC. 
Anna Moneymaker | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Sunday downplayed Huawei Technologies’ latest microchip breakthrough, arguing the U.S. remains far ahead of China in the critical technology.

The comments, made on CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” are in line with the Commerce secretary’s stance that the Biden administration’s restrictions on chip sales to China are working, despite an advanced made-in-China chip surfacing in a Huawei phone last year.

“It’s years behind what we have in the United States. We have the most sophisticated semiconductors in the world. China doesn’t. We’ve out-innovated China,” Raimondo said in the interview which aired Sunday evening in the U.S.

U.S.-blacklisted Huawei released the Mate 60 Pro smartphone in August, which sported a 5G-capable chip — a feat thought to have been made difficult by a series of U.S. export controls in late 2022. The phone launched while Raimondo was on a visit to China.

Prior to the trip, it was reported that Raimondo’s email had been accessed by Chinese-linked hackers. 

“I have their attention, clearly,” she said, adding the U.S. would continue to pursue actions to protect U.S. national security and businesses.  

According to a senior Commerce Department official, Huawei’s chipmaking partner SMIC “potentially” violated U.S. law by providing an advanced chip to the Chinese phone maker. 

Since the release of the Mate 60 Pro, the U.S. has further tightened restrictions on sales of advanced semiconductor tech to China. 

Chinese officials have repeatedly denounced the policies, which require licenses for any company worldwide to sell products with advanced U.S.-designed chip technology to countries seen as adversaries.

Many U.S. chip companies, which rely on China for a large amount of business, have also expressed concerns about losing market access.  

“We want to trade with China on the vast majority of goods and services,” Raimondo said. “But on those technologies that affect our national security, no.”

The global chip race ramped up after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, triggering the U.S. and allies such as the Netherlands and Japan to tighten advanced tech export controls. CNBC previously reported that Russia acquired advanced Western technology through intermediary countries like China.

“It’s absolutely the case that our export controls have hurt [Russia’s] ability to conduct the war, made it harder,” Raimondo said, though she admitted that Russia has found some alternative sources of chips. 

The Commerce Department has also overseen the allocation of the Biden administration’s almost $53 billion CHIPS Act, aimed at building the U.S. domestic semiconductor industry and undercutting rivals like China.

In recent weeks, billions in grants and loans have been earmarked for chipmakers Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., Samsung Electronics and Micron Technology, which are all increasing production capacity in the U.S. 

Raimondo told CNBC earlier this month that all of the grant money allocated for the CHIPS Act will be sent out by year-end.

Read the full report on CBS.

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