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U.S. Congress pressures S. Korea to join chip alliance

Posted May. 25, 2023 08:01,   

Updated May. 25, 2023 08:01


As there is a likelihood that China’s ban on Micron Technology, a memory chip giant, may offer a potential opportunity for South Korean chipmakers such as Samsung Electronics and SK hynix, the U.S. Congress voiced concern that the supply from South Korea should not be filling the gap left by the absence of Micron in the Chinese market. Should such happen, the U.S. Congress argues, the waiver previously extended to South Korea about the restrictions under the CHIPS Act must be withdrawn. The escalating competition between the U.S. and China over semiconductors is forcing South Korea to choose between siding with a U.S.-led chip alliance against China and responding to China’s possible economic retaliation against Korea.

Samsung Electronics and SK hynix are currently operating memory chip factories in China. Upon imposing a ban on China in October 2022, the U.S. Department of Commerce extended a one-year waiver for South Korean chipmakers from restrictions on exports of semiconductor equipment to China. House Select Committee on China Chairman Rep. Mike Gallagher’s remark can be understood as implying that the U.S. will withdraw a waiver it extended for South Korean chipmakers if they attempt to exploit China’s ban on Micron as a kind of disadvantage.

This is the first time that the U.S. officially asked South Korea not to fill the market gap in China arising from its ban on Micron. The U.S. Congress is advocating for South Korea’s participation in its chip alliance against China. “We are engaging with the broader business community as well as with our allies and partners to address the Chinese government’s restrictions against Micron,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “We will make clear to the Chinese government that this behavior is unacceptable and unproductive.”

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