Huawei Technologies aims to restart making cutting-edge mobile chips as early as this year, even as the US and its allies further restrict China’s access to key tools and tech used to churn out semiconductors, reports Nikkei Asia. Huawei, a onetime smartphone powerhouse, is working with top Chinese chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co. (SMIC) to put its in-house designed 5G mobile chipset into mass production in the coming months, two people with knowledge of the matter told Nikkei Asia.
Huawei has been unable to make cutting-edge mobile chips since Washington cut off the company’s access to key American technology and vital global suppliers in 2020. SMIC has likewise been on a US trade blacklist since late 2020 over alleged ties to the Chinese military, which it denies.
If Huawei succeeds in getting its mobile chips back into production, it would mark a major win for China. Beijing has spent years and millions of dollars attempting to develop a complete domestic chip industry to counter Washington’s clampdown on Huawei and other Chinese tech companies, which includes sweeping export controls introduced last October. In a further blow to China’s chip ambitions, Japan and the Netherlands recently joined the US in introducing export restrictions on advanced semiconductor equipment.