U.S. strikes at a Huawei prize: chip juggernaut HiSilicon

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fairly difficult
The latest U.S. government action against China's Huawei takes direct aim the company's HiSilicon chip division--a business that in a few short years...
By Josh Horwitz

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - has become central to China's ambitions in semiconductor technology but will now lose access to tools that are central to its success.

That could make it the most damaging U.S. attack yet against a Chinese company that U.S. officials told reporters Wednesday functioned as a "tool of strategic influence" for the Chinese Communist Party. Huawei Technologies Co Ltd for its part denounced the U.S. allegations and called the new measures "arbitrary and pernicious."

Established in 2004, HiSilicon develops chips mostly for Huawei, and for most of its existence has been an afterthought in a global chip business dominated by U.S., Korean and Japanese companies. Like most electronics firms, Huawei relied on others for the chips that powered its equipment.

But heavy investment in research and development helped drive rapid progress at HiSilicon, and in recent years the 7,000-employee unit has been central to Huawei's rise as a dominant player in the global smartphone business and the emerging 5G telecom networking business.

HiSilicon's Kirin smartphone processor is now considered to be on par with those created by Apple Inc and Qualcomm Inc --a rare example of an advanced Chinese semiconductor product that competes globally.

HiSilicon is also central to Huawei's leadership in 5G, stepping into the breach when the United States cut off access to some U.S. chips last year.

In March, Huawei revealed that 8% of the 50,000 5G base stations it sold in 2019 came with no U.S. technology, using HiSilicon chipsets…
Reuters, Josh Horwitz
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