U.S. official: Key allies will adopt China chip-export bans

Deal is part of wider efforts to slow China’s advances in semiconductors
By Alex Willemyns
2022.10.27
Washington
U.S. official: Key allies will adopt China chip-export bans Employees work on the semiconductor chip production line of Jiangsu Azure Corp in Huaian, Jiangsu province, China, March 25, 2022.
Credit: China Daily via Reuters

A multilateral deal to extend a U.S. ban to China of exporting technologies used to make cutting-edge microchips will be inked “in the near term,” a U.S. Commerce Department official said on Thursday.

U.S.-allied exporters of chip-making technology, such as Japan and the Netherlands, are on board with efforts to limit exports to China, Alan Estevez, undersecretary of commerce for industry and security, said at an event at the Center for a New American Security in Washington.

“We expect to have a deal done in the near term,” Estevez said, adding that recent U.S. export bans were “not a surprise to our allies.”

Estevez said allied countries with microchip industries had told American officials they were open to coordinated bans on providing chip-making facilities to Chinese firms, but wanted the United States to take the lead.

 

“What we keep hearing is: ‘Ensure that you – the U.S. – also have skin in the game.’ We've shown we have skin in the game. We've taken action,” he said. “I have zero confidence that we're not going to have a deal.”

The Biden administration recently announced a slew of measures to slow China’s advances in semiconductors, after accusing Beijing of taking advantage of Western-designed technology for military purposes. 

Among the measures are $52.7 billion in subsidies under the CHIPS Act to promote the reshoring of chip making in the U.S., as well as a ban on American citizens and permanent residents from working for Chinese chip makers and limits on American companies from exporting to China the technology used to make the most cutting-edge chips. 

The policies have been slammed by Beijing and the Chinese chip-making industry as protectionist and part of a “Cold War mentality.” On Sunday, the Financial Times reported that one Chinese company, Yangtze Memory Technologies Co., had already laid off key staff to comply with the U.S. policies, a week after Apple suspended orders from the firm.

Estevez called the CHIPS Act the “offense” and export controls the “defense” of what he termed a “holistic strategy” for the U.S. and its allies to stay ahead of China when it comes to producing microchips, which he said the U.S. government considered a national-security priority.

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