On August 29, Huawei released its newest smartphone, the Mate 60 Pro, setting off a buzz in both China and the US. The device likely contains a 7-nanometer 5G chip manufactured by SMIC — a real achievement for Chinese advanced semiconductor manufacturing in the shadow of unprecedented US export controls.
Its release also just happened to coincide with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s visit to Beijing, making it a powerful geopolitical statement — Bill Bishop called it an “orchestrated snub to Raimondo.” I think he’s right. If Beijing didn’t approve of this release and was worried about the snub upsetting US-China relations, there is no way you would have seen the crowing endorsement on state and social media illustrated below. Beijing likes to talk about the importance of preserving “atmospherics,” and in the wake of the balloon reportedly convinced the Biden administration of the need to stop escalating restrictions on Huawei’s access to technology to put a floor under US-China relations.
On the other hand, had Biden pulled a similar stunt — like dropping the FBI’s balloon report during a Chinese official’s visit — Beijing would have portrayed it as unconscionable. Hopefully G7 policymakers take this incident to heart that for the China, “preserving atmospherics” is for thee and not for me .