The US-China Tech Rift Deepens as Huawei MateBook X Pro Sparks Congressional Scrutiny

Huawei’s new MateBook X Pro with Intel’s Ultra 9 Core processors ignites US-China tensions, prompting Congressional scrutiny over technology flow and national security

By Raunak Bose
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The US-China Tech Rift Deepens as Huawei’s MateBook X Pro Sparks Congressional Scrutiny

Image depicting the US-China Rift with an image showing the Huawei MateBook X Pro (Image via TechFirstNow)

Huawei’s latest MateBook X Pro equipped with the new Ultra 9 Core Intel processors has sparked an anti-Chinese wave among the Republicans in the US. The laptop’s employment of an Intel AI chip dully revives disputes over the unstoppable flow of American technology to the Chinese tech giant, despite existing trade restrictions.

The year 2019 witnessed a momentous change with the United States imposing sanctions on Huawei, alleging an Iran sanction violation and national security concerns, which aimed to halt China’s technological progress. Huawei was added to the trade restrictions list, and its suppliers were obliged to obtain special exporting licenses before they could transmit products to it.

During the Trump administration, an intriguing exception in the form of Intel's chance to supply central processors to Huawei occurred. It was a break from the narrative that started in 2020, which led to questions and speculations.

Gallagher Queries Department Of Commerce On Why Huawei Tech Shipments Are Allowed

Republican Congressman Michael Gallagher was displeased asking the Department of Commerce why they allowed the shipment of U.S. technology to Huawei to continue. He stated, "One of the greatest mysteries in Washington, DC is why the Department of Commerce continues to allow U.S. technology to be shipped to Huawei."

Republican Congressman Michael Gallagher
Republican Congressman Michael Gallagher (Image via The Hill)

The disclosure of Huawei's AI-powered laptop raised questions about the US Commerce Department's licensing/approval of semiconductor shipments to the Chinese conglomerate. Although Chinese hardliners pressured the US government to revoke the license, the Biden administration had not yet interfered, becoming a subject of close observation.

People familiar with the matter indicated that the chips were shipped before the AI chip export restraints to China were introduced and were not subject to the new restrictions. The theory did not do much to calm the fears of the lawmakers, though.

The recent Huawei sanctions and its partnership with SMIC have prompted the Biden administration to enlarge the barricades to contain Huawei’s growing influence. The technological leadership of Huawei is the manifestation of China’s ability to cope with the U.S. attempt to hamper the semiconductor tech of China.

In the latest Senate hearing, Kevin Kurland, a US export enforcement officer, shared his views on the risk of leaving Huawei with no access to the US technologies. His balanced approach stressed more on the prevention of the misuse of American tech than on the common reflex of just hindering Huawei’s evolution.

McCaul Criticizes The Lack Of Policy Change And Calls For An End To Huawei Licenses

While some lawmakers expressed optimism, however, Republican Congressman Michael McCaul lamented over the lack of significant policy changes which were much needed. He precisely announced, “Two years ago, I was told licenses to Huawei would stop. Today, it doesn’t seem as though the policy has changed.”

Republican Congressman Michael McCaul
Republican Congressman Michael McCaul (via CNN)

The role Huawei plays in the current unfolding saga is a prism that shows us a complex picture of U.S.-China relations and how national security considerations are always in the battle of economic interests in the global arena. While technology becomes an ever more primary force, shaping global policies, the policymakers are to do a juggling act between the rapidly evolving landscape and keeping national interests intact.

In a nutshell, Huawei’s latest endeavour into the AI-powered laptops field has only revived the discussions about US technology and has also emphasised the need for comprehensive strategies to deal with emergent problems in the tech sector. In the wake of the ongoing tensions between the U.S. and China, the chances for Huawei to keep its leading role in the global tech market are even more in doubt.

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