Epoch Times reported that, right before the U.S. issued sanctions against Huawei, Huawei set up Hubble Investment, which, in the past three years, has invested in 56 chip companies. The entire country of China had also set off a vigorous movement to build chips at the same time, but it all ended in vain.
In May 2019, the United States banned Huawei from importing products if at least 25 percent of the components they contained were made in the U.S. On May 15, 2020, the U.S. escalated its sanctions. Any companies, including non-U.S. companies, should not sell any chips produced with U.S. technology and equipment without U.S. approval. Afterward, TSMC, the world’s leading dedicated semiconductor foundry, completely stopped supplying its chips to Huawei
A month before the first U.S. sanction, Huawei established a wholly owned subsidiary, Hubble Investment, with registered capital of 700 million Yuan (US $110 million) in Shenzhen.
According to a market research company PitchBook Data, Hubble Investment has invested in 56 chip companies. The Chinese media Semiconductor Today reported Hubble is like a “wolf” in its chip investment, investing at a rate of nearly one company per month. Its aggressiveness escalated after the second time the U.S. issued sanctions against Huawei. Huawei increased Hubble’s registered capital to 1.7 billion yuan (US $268 million) in January 2020 and Hubble invested in 25 semiconductor-related companies in 2020 alone.
Hubble Investment also moved up the industry chain.
For example, in May 2019, Hubble invested in Radrock (Shenzhen) Technology, focusing on high-performance 4/5G RF front-end chips and WiFi PA products. In July 2019, Hubble invested in 3PEAK, producing high-performance, high-quality integrated circuit products. In August 2019, Hubble invested in SICC Co, producing silicon carbide substrate materials; and in October 2019, Hubble invested in TankeBlue Semiconductor Co., producing third-generation semiconductor SiC wafers.
Topology Research Institute reported that Hubble Investment covers the third-generation semiconductors, wafer-level optical chips, power management chips, clock chips, RF filters, and many other areas, where Huawei relies on the U.S. supplies.
However, there has not been much of a result from Huawei’s chip producing capability. By 2021, it had gradually run out of its chip storage. Hisilicon, which used to supply the high-end Kirin 9000 chips to Huawei, couldn’t do it anymore. Huawei introduced its P50 series mobile phone this year, with some phones equipped with Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 processor due to the lack of Kirin 9000 chips. Also, a lack of 5G RF equipment rendered the phones, even with the Kirin 9000 5G SoC installed, still unable to support 5G.
In 2020, not only did Huawei heavily invest in chips companies, but the entirety of China also had a chip investment wave. Chinese semiconductor companies raised nearly US $38 billion through public offerings, private equity, and asset sales, more than double the total for 2019. In the same year, more than 50,000 Chinese companies registered semiconductor-related businesses, four times the total of five years ago. These companies included those with no connection to chips at all, such as real estate developers, cement makers, and restaurants – all of which branded themselves as “chip companies” because the government promised tax breaks and funding for the chip industry.
However, there was no result from these investments. According to statistics from Chinese media in October 2020, six high-profile Chinese semiconductor projects with budgets each over ten billion Yuan (US $1.58 billion), Including Wuhan Hongxin and Jinan Quanxin, were stopped within a little over a year. Some never even produced a single chip.
Source: Epoch Times, January 15, 2022