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Huawei Supplier Hires Ex-U.S. Official as China Tensions Grow

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(Bloomberg) -- MediaTek Inc. has hired a former U.S. Department of Commerce official to help the Taiwanese chipmaker navigate worsening U.S.-China tensions that have already ensnared its customer Huawei Technologies Co.

Patrick Wilson, who most recently served as director of the Office of Business Liaison for the Department of Commerce, will be appointed vice president of government affairs at MediaTek USA and lead its public policy initiatives, the company said in a draft press statement seen by Bloomberg News. Wilson previously worked at the Semiconductor Industry Association, where he led the trade group’s dealings with the federal government.

Technology companies with ties to or operations in China have come under increasing scrutiny from Washington amid growing tensions with Beijing, forcing them to ramp up spending on lobbying efforts in the U.S. The Commerce Department said in May it would require licenses before allowing U.S. technology to be used by Huawei or its 114 subsidiaries, including its chip-design unit HiSilicon, thus preventing suppliers including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. from shipping HiSilicon-designed parts to the Chinese company.

Earlier this year, TSMC hired former Intel Corp. lobbyist Peter Cleveland, while ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese owner of the viral TikTok app that has also come under U.S. scrutiny, spent a record $500,000 on federal lobbying in the quarter ended June 30.

Analysts are expecting Huawei to rely on MediaTek for more orders after TSMC said it will not ship new chips designed by HiSilicon after Sept. 15. MediaTek may supply its chips to Huawei for a flagship handset that may be introduced this year as the U.S. export controls impact supply from Qualcomm Inc. and TSMC, Sanford C. Bernstein analysts including Mark Li wrote in a July 23 note.

MediaTek shares have gained about 150% since its March lows to close at NT$680 on July 28.

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