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The geopolitical significance of the Huawei chip that cannot exist, but does exist

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The geopolitical significance of the Huawei chip that cannot exist, but does exist

The marketing of new Huawei Mate Pro 60 it is not only the umpteenth chapter in the race to grab shares in the high-end smartphone market but it has an impact on geopolitics technology not to be underestimated: the Kirin900s processor that makes the smartphone work is developed on 7 nanometer chips, considered impossible to produce in China due to the embargo on the technologies necessary to create it.

In the immediate future, the construction of the Kirin 9000s has very significant practical implications, being first and foremost an instrument of economic competition. For example, thanks to the new chip, Huawei is now once again able to challenge Apple on the Chinese market, potentially taking away shares in one of the most relevant markets and, perhaps, in others as well.

However, in terms of technological geopolitics, and not only, the importance of this success has much more widespread effects, so much so that the US administration, surprised by the news, launched an investigation to understand how it was possible for China to reach the finish line despite the embargo.

While awaiting the results of the investigation, the fact remains: China has demonstrated the knowledge and ability to produce semiconductors which allow it to compete head-to-head with products made in the USA, narrowing the technological gap.

From a public communication perspective, China can reduce the perception of the effectiveness of Western sanctions and reinforce its image of a country capable of competing with anyone at the highest levels despite the measures adopted by the USA in the delicate chess game between the two powers.

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Furthermore, as noted Megha Shrivastava in an article published on The Diplomat, the production of the Kirin9000s “will push the United States to further broaden the scope of its sanctions and export control measures. As a result, US allies in the semiconductor value chain – South Korea, Taiwan, Germany and the Netherlands, who have borne the brunt of U.S. policies with lost revenue from the Chinese market – will have an increasingly difficult time cooperating with the United States.” In other words, it would not be easy for the US to ask for further restrictions on companies in friendly countries without giving something in return.

It is still early to fully assess the consequences of China’s success – for example, it is not yet clear whether the production of this chip can scale up in an economically sustainable way – but it certainly Beijing has taken another step towards self-sufficiency in high technology.

This suggests that successes like those of the Kirin9000s could also be achieved in the other critical sector, that of chips for artificial intelligence. If this were the case, the polarization of the battle for control over AI would increase, forcing those countries that do not have technological leverage to have to submit to one superpower or the other, and therefore to relegate themselves to the role of simple supporting actors.

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