US inevitably revokes chip export licenses involving Huawei

Following Huawei’s launch of a laptop containing Intel’s latest CPU, it’s being widely reported that Intel’s license to sell chips to Huawei has been revoked.

Scott Bicheno

May 8, 2024

2 Min Read

It’s hard to imagine a better illustration of the comical futility represented by America’s tech cold war strategy. On one hand it’s using unilateral sanctions to try to suppress Chinese technological progress, on the other it doesn’t want to starve its companies of a massive customer base. So, it seems, licenses are granted until Huawei launches a product that uses US components, then the stable door is shut after the horse has bolted.

Both Reuters and the FT received anonymous briefings that were clearly controlled leaks from the US Department of Commerce. Reuters cited no less than three anonymous sources identifying Intel and Qualcomm as having their Huawei export licenses revoked. Somehow a fourth source managed to elbow their way through the whispering throng to deliver the news that at least some of the moves had immediate effect.

Coincidentally, the FT received identical anonymous briefings and it, too, got official confirmation from the Department of Commerce that it had revoked some licenses. It’s not obvious why the substance of this announcement needed to be imparted under the cloak of anonymity but it does make the whole thing seem a bit more edgy, doesn’t it?

The reports also strongly hinted that the catalyst for the US to revoke licenses it has been happy to grant for years previously was the launch of the Matebook X Pro Core Ultra, which perhaps deliberately taunted US politicians and regulators by including the name of Intel’s latest CPU in its name. Such is the haphazard, whack-a-mole nature of US strategy on this matter that the minor publicity accompanying the launch was enough to bring about a significant shift in policy.

Both reports conclude with extensive accounts of how bent-out-of-shape US politicians were by the laptop launch. So much so that it took Senator Marco Rubio and Member of Congress Elise Stefanik a mere nine days to compose an indignant letter to Gina Raimondo, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, expressing apparent surprise that the licensing framework even exists.

“Allowing cutting-edge American technology into Huawei’s newest PC will only make it easier for the CCP to evade U.S. technology restrictions and race ahead in AI,” said the letter. “Your department’s failure to enforce your own export-control regime will aid the CCP and the PLA as they seek to undermine America’s prime position in the world.”

At least the US has finally stopped pretending this is about specific security concerns and is now openly admitting the tech cold war is about subjugating China and, ultimately, the rest of the world in order to defend America’s increasingly precarious dominance. "This action will bolster U.S. national security, protect American ingenuity, and diminish Communist China’s ability to advance its technology," Stefanik told Reuters.

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About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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