The Biden administration is expected to announce as early as in the week ending October 8 strict restrictions on advanced semiconductor exports to China. The measures are said to be modeled after using export controls aimed at hobbling China's tech giant Huawei by cutting off China's access to U.S. advanced semiconductor technology that powers AI and supercomputers. They would build on the rule that struck a blow to Huawei by prohibiting companies worldwide from sending China products made using American technology. Upon the news, concerns are rising that Korean semiconductor companies, including those manufacturing high-performance memory chips, may likely be affected.
On Monday (local time), the New York Times, citing sources with knowledge of the plans, said that many Chinese firms, government research labs, and other entities are expected to face restrictions and added that any firm that uses American-made technologies would be blocked from selling to the Chinese entities that the administration targets. The news outlet also wrote that the new rules could be the most sweeping action taken by the Biden administration to thwart China’s access to American technology."
The critical technologies under restriction include those related to AI and supercomputers and high-end models of chips known as graphic processing units used for data centers. Measures will likely be imposed on multiple companies and research labs in China, including Yangtze Memory Technologies Company (YMTC), a state-owned memory chip maker.
Industry experts worryingly noted that if the restriction measures are sweeping to cover from AI to memory chips, Korean semiconductor companies, including makers of high-performance memory chips used in graphic processing units for AI, may seriously be affected. “The restrictions may become a risk factor raising uncertainties for domestic companies already struggling with soaring semiconductor stocks and their plummeting price,” said Kim Mun-tae, the Industrial Policy Team leader at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry.