US cuts supplies to Huawei's Chinese chipmaker

The US has moved to cut supplies to a top Chinese chipmaker after it built an advanced semiconductor chip used in Huawei's Mate 60 Pro phone.

The US is trying to cut off Chinese companies ability to make advanced semiconductors. Picture: Pixabay

The release of Huawei's Mate 60 Pro sent shock waves through Washington last September after it revealed how the Chinese company had been able to produce an advanced 5G smartphone despite US sanctions.

The phone was seen as a symbol of the China's technological development and was powered by a sophisticated chip produced by the Chinese chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC).

The Biden administration is now taking steps to stop US companies from supplying SMIC with the materials it needs to produce its chips.

According to Reuters, US Commerce Department sent dozens of letters to US suppliers to SMIC, suspending permission to sell to the company’s most advanced plant.

The move is part of Washington's ongoing efforts to cripple SMIC’s capacity to produce advanced semiconductors, Reuters said.

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington told Reuters: "This is out-and-out economic bullying and will inevitably backfire. We urge the US side to stop overstretching the concept of national security and abusing the state power to suppress Chinese companies.”

Huawei is already barred by US sanctions from obtaining advanced integrated circuits (ICs) from non-Chinese chipmakers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing or Samsung Electronics.

Although SMIC has been on a US trade restrictions list since 2020, US suppliers have still been able to sell semiconductor tools and materials to the company because of US rules allowed companies with preexisting licenses to continue supplying the facility.

US companies have been supplying SMIC with filters, gases, chemicals, and products for handling wafers, the building blocks for making chips, Reuters noted.