The United States over the past two administrations, and certainly in the last year of this administration, has tried to blunt aggressive Chinese technology development, especially when it comes to semiconductors, artificial intelligence, and all the other nuts and bolts. The next industrial revolution.

Washington has used executive orders, legislation, ad hoc congressional committees, new regulation, and export controls to reduce China’s access to these technologies. But if recent Chinese progress is any guide, those efforts have so far fallen short – allowing China to lag far behind the West when it comes to the technologies that will power future economic growth.

Chinese telecom giant Huawei, blacklisted by Washington and many of its allies, recently unveiled a new smartphone with an advanced semiconductor made in China. Manufactured by SMIC, China’s largest chipmaker, the new creation represents a “design and manufacturing milestone,” according to TechInsights, a research firm that dismantled the device.

Given that Washington has spent considerable time and energy trying to disrupt China’s ability to develop advanced semiconductor technology, this development has raised considerable concern. The new chip is not only violating US technology sanctions; It is turbocharged. The smaller the size of the transistor, the more it can fit on the chip and the more powerful it will be. The US control is aimed at giving China control over 14-nanometer technology. SMIC’s new creation is 7 nanometers.

Chinese state media hailed the development as a geopolitical victory and proof of the resilience of the Chinese tech sector, while warning that Washington would “pay a price” for its “technological arrogance”.

“The resurgence of Huawei smartphones after three years of forced silence is enough to prove that America’s excessive repression has failed,” an editorial said Global Times Said. “It also serves as a microcosm of the US-China tech war, reflecting the entire process and foreshadowing the final outcome.”

Alarmed by the chip news, some US policymakers are urging stronger action. A group of Republican lawmakers, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and House Select Committee on Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mike Gallagher, sent a letter last week to US Commerce Under Secretary Alan Estevez Was. For more restrictions on Huawei and SMIC.

“We are deeply troubled and appalled by the inability of the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to effectively write and enforce export control regulations against violators, particularly China,” the lawmakers wrote. “The circumstances we face demonstrate the need for additional pressure on our adversaries and more effective export controls.”

The Commerce Department has said it is seeking more information about the “character and structure” of the chip, as evidenced by comments this month from national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Sullivan said the United States would continue its current strategy of narrow restrictions on advanced technology rather than broad-based economic disruption, reiterating the “small yard, high fence” approach he has repeatedly stated. “That’s where our emphasis has been. “Regardless of the outcome, this is where it will continue,” he said.

In some ways the success of the chip highlights the porousness of that approach; Experts say Chinese companies may have stockpiled some chips before U.S. controls were imposed, used less sophisticated or efficient methods to achieve similar results, or procured components from secondary markets. It is quite possible that the United States will look to take advantage of additional chokepoints.

Christopher Miller, associate professor of international history at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, said, “I expect there will be an acceleration of conversations about Huawei and tighter controls on SMIC, including limits on products like chip-making chemicals, which are now prohibited from Has not been banned till now.”

Huawei in particular has been a target of US policymakers for more than a decade, with efforts to curb the company’s capabilities and expansion dating back to the Obama administration. The fact that Huawei technology is involved this time could prompt more action from Washington and its allies, said Reva Goujon, director of the Rhodium Group, which focuses on China’s industrial policies.

“It’s extremely convenient that we’re talking about Huawei, the most sanctioned Chinese technology company subject to US export controls,” Goujon said. “And America gets some benefits from that.”

Some concern may be justified. While Washington’s export restrictions aim to push back China’s semiconductor industry, the new smartphone shows its leading chipmaker could be “at most only a few years behind” global giants like Samsung, Intel and Taiwan’s TSMC, a According to a recent blog post by research firm Semianalysis.

“This is an important step forward for China’s chip ecosystem and the broader electronics industry,” Miller said. “This shows that China’s chipmakers are making progress in their manufacturing capabilities and that China’s leading chipmaker, SMIC, can produce significantly advanced chips in meaningful quantities.”

That doesn’t mean China is ready to take on its top-tier foreign rivals, Miller said. Both performance metrics and manufacturing methods still lag behind.

The big question is whether the Chinese success is really all that – or a marketing ploy. SMIC reportedly first developed 7-nanometer chips in 2022, even before the Biden administration imposed its export restrictions. But experts raised questions about its economic feasibility and scalability. Many of those questions still hang over Huawei’s apparent use of these SMIC chips, said John Bateman, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who added that current production appears to be limited.

“It’s not clear at this point whether the chip in the new Huawei phones represents a serious technological milestone or a complicated marketing stunt,” he said, adding, “It is not yet a mass-market product.”

Another significant development followed the smartphone launch late last month, when Beijing granted government approval to AI chatbots made by Chinese tech giants including Baidu, SenseTime and TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, which have undergone months of testing and regulatory scrutiny. To be released to the public after. Test.

China has long had the ambition to become a leading AI power by the end of the current decade, and the tremendous success of ChatGPIT, launched by California-based OpenAI last November, has created competition among Chinese companies to develop comparable large language models. Has given. (Tencent claimed that its chatbot, released this month, was “better” than ChatGPT in some text and mathematical applications.) But China’s extensive restrictions around online speech made it relatively difficult to develop and release these chatbots. and their widespread rollout has been delayed. Those restrictions, particularly on what data China’s generic models can draw from, are also likely to limit what they can do – but Beijing appears willing to make that trade-off.

“Chinese regulators will always try to get ahead of those risks where they can,” said Anarkali Perera, director of technology policy and strategy at Albright Stonebridge Group, who previously worked at ByteDance in Beijing. “If it comes at the cost of a delayed commercial rollout of generic AI apps, that is a price the government is willing to pay.”

But Chinese regulators are introducing new designs faster than expected, Pereira said, a sign that Beijing is leaning a little more toward innovation right now.

China is not just playing defense on technology. wall street journal Reports this month that Chinese government officials have been banned from using iPhones at work prompted US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby to raise “concerns” about “aggressive and inappropriate retaliation” against US companies. ” has expressed. China’s Foreign Ministry last week denied that the government had imposed a ban, but said it had “paid attention” to reports of “security incidents related to Apple phones.”

Chinese hackers have also stepped up targeting of the U.S. government and civilians in recent months, inserting malware into military bases in Guam, accessing Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s email account and most recently regarding the Maui wildfires. I have spread wrong information. Mike Eoyang, US deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyberpolicy, told reporters last week that China’s recent actions on the cyberfront “suggest the principle of disrupting military mobilization as well as creating chaos in the United States.”

But China can attack the wall before breaking the tape. Given growing uncertainty from the real estate crisis, ongoing credit challenges and rising youth unemployment, worsening economic headwinds in the coming months could complicate efforts to accelerate tech growth. For the first time in two years, consumer prices fell in July, raising fears of deflation.

“A big factor here is China’s ailing economy, which does not bode well for future technological progress,” Bateman said.

China may have miniaturized its transistors – but it’s also shrinking its economic growth rate and future prospects. This will make it difficult to defeat the West.

“You have to make sure you have access to critical technologies,” Goujon said. “It is becoming increasingly difficult for Beijing to talk out macroeconomic headwinds.”