US Republicans demand full sanctions, charges against China’s Huawei, SMIC

GOP lawmakers call for tougher measures after release of Huawei smartphone raises doubts about US export controls.

US Republicans are calling for tougher sanctions against Huawei and SMIC [File: Mariam Zuhaib/AP Photo]

Republican lawmakers in the United States have called for tougher sanctions against China’s Huawei and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) after the companies were able to develop an advanced smartphone despite US export controls.

The 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives – who include the chairs of key committees on China, energy and commerce, and defence – are urging the Commerce Department to impose “full blocking sanctions” on Huawei and SMIC as well as criminal charges against their executives.

In a letter signed by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul and nine other Republicans on Thursday, the group of lawmakers said the Huawei Mate 60 Pro smartphone’s use of advanced 7-nanometre chips suggested that US export controls had been violated.

The letter outlined seven proposed measures in total, including a revocation of all existing export licences for Huawei and SMIC.

“We are extremely troubled and perplexed about the Bureau of Industry and Security’s [BIS] inability to effectively write and enforce export control rules against violators, especially China,” the letter said.

“For more than two years, our committees and numerous members of Congress have written 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.”

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

The US placed Huawei and SMIC on a trade blacklist in 2019 and 2020, respectively, over alleged national security concerns.

Since then, US suppliers have had to obtain a special licence to ship goods to the companies.

Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro, unveiled last month during US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s visit to China, uses an advanced processor that is capable of supporting 5G.

The smartphone’s high-end capabilities have raised questions about the effectiveness of US President Joe Biden’s campaign to hobble China’s development of advanced chips.

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

The Commerce Department has said it is looking into the capabilities of the new chip.

“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 PRC,” the department said last week in a statement, referring to the acronym of the People’s Republic of China.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies