In a front page exclusive, The Deal reported that despite U.S.-Sino trade tensions and heightened scrutiny of foreign purchases of advanced technologies, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. this month quietly cleared a Chinese acquisition of a Silicon Valley chipmaker that manufactures image sensors for everything from augmented reality to robots.

The national security review panel's approval of the purchase of Santa Clara-based OmniVision Technologies, Inc. by Shanghai’s Will Semiconductor Co., Ltd., is being touted by Pillsbury China practice leader Tom Shoesmith as evidence that seemingly risky combinations can secure clearance notwithstanding Washington's saber rattling.

"If you really do have a transaction that doesn't threaten national security, CFIUS will listen to you," said Shoesmith, who is a Capital Markets partner in Pillsbury’s Silicon Valley office.

"It's a data point that helps to reassure people" that some foreign direct investment from China can survive rigorous review by this administration, he said.

In 2015, OmniVision was purchased for $1.9 billion by a consortium of Chinese private equity firms that closed in January 2016 after receiving a green light from the national security panel under the Obama administration. The latest deal required CFIUS review because assets involved in the change in control are in the U.S.

Shoesmith added that the latest CFIUS approval is significant given the concerns about espionage, intellectual property theft and military applications for dual-use technology.

"CFIUS has really tightened the screws on semiconductor acquisitions over the last two to three years," he noted.

Shoesmith observed that the Obama-era clearance of the first OmniVision acquisition probably helped this time around, along with the fact that the buyer is not a state-owned entity.