China opposes probe into new Huawei chip as Mate 60 Pro is released; China bans use of iPhone in government buildings

China opposes probe into new Huawei chip as Mate 60 Pro is released; China bans use of iPhone in government buildings

China's Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Mao Ning said that sanctions, containment and oppression cannot stop China’s development, and will only strengthen the country’s resolve and ability to seek self-reliance and technological innovation. She made the remarks as it was reported that the United States government began an official probe into an advanced made-in-China chip used in Huawei Technologies’ latest smartphone, the Mate 60 Pro. The handset was unveiled while U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was on her four-day trip to China. Mao said at a daily news conference that China always opposes politicizing trade and technology issues as well as overstretching and abusing the concept of national security. The U.S. has abused state power to suppress Chinese companies, which violates the principles of free trade and international trade rules, and disrupts the stability of global industrial and supply chains, Mao said. Such a practice benefits no one and will eventually backfire, she added. Washington has imposed a series of restrictions against Huawei and China’s chip industry over the past two years.

Huawei started pre-sales for several new smartphone models on September 8, ahead of Apple's expected announcement of the new iPhone 15 on September 12. Many models of Huawei's mobile phones were sold out immediately, drawing even greater attention to Huawei, after reports of advanced chips used in its new smartphones sent shockwaves through China and abroad, particularly in the U.S., where officials are reportedly seeking to step up the crackdown on the company.

The models include the Mate X5, the new Mate 60, and Mate 60 Pro. While the company did not disclose specific details about the chips used, there has been widespread speculation in media reports that the Mate 60 series utilizes the Kirin 9000S chip, featuring 7 nm and stacking technology, with HarmonyOS as its operating system. Huawei has not announced the processor model of its new foldable screen phone Mate X5, but it is expected to be equipped with the same Kirin 9000S as the Mate 60 series, and may even have the rumored Kirin 9100. Huawei's Mate 60 Pro is the world's first phone model allowing to call via the Tiantong-1 satellite system.

The U.S. Commerce Department should end all technology exports to Huawei Technologies and China’s top semiconductor firm Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) following the discovery of new chips in Huawei phones that may violate trade restrictions, the Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on China said. Representative Mike Gallagher, an influential Republican lawmaker whose select committee has pressed the Biden administration to take a tougher stance on sending U.S. technology to China, made the comments after Huawei last week started pre-sales of its Mate 60 Pro.

“This chip likely could not be produced without U.S. technology and thus SMIC may have violated the Department of Commerce’s Foreign Direct Product Rule,” Gallagher said in a statement. “The time has come to end all U.S. technology exports to both Huawei and SMIC to make clear any firm that flouts U.S. law and undermines our national security will be cut off from our technology,” he added. 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. The trade restrictions imposed on Huawei and SMIC include the Foreign Direct Product Rule meant to bar any company anywhere in the world from using tools from the United States to manufacture a chip for Huawei.

Meanwhile, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel asked U.S. government agencies to consider declaring that Chinese companies including Quectel and Fibocom Wireless pose unacceptable national security risks, according to letters seen by Reuters. The two companies produce cellular modules that enable Internet of Things (IoT) devices to connect to the internet. Federal funds cannot be used to purchase equipment from companies on the Covered List, and the FCC will not authorize new equipment from companies deemed national security threats. The FCC previously placed 10 Chinese entities and one Russian company on the Covered List including Huawei Technologies, ZTE, Hytera Communications Corp, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Zhejiang Dahua Technology.

China has banned central and local government employees and some personnel in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) from bringing their iPhones or other Apple products to work. The news caused Apple's shares to drop. China is one of Apple's biggest markets and generates nearly a fifth of its revenue. Moreover, about 90% of Apple products are made in China and Apple supplier Foxconn employs 1.2 million people in the country.

This overview is based on reports by the China Daily, the Global Times and the South China Morning Post.