This is a new episode in the war for technological domination between China and the United States. According to The Wall Street Journal, Washington has imposed export restrictions on US companies to China’s largest silicon chip maker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC). Its suppliers will now be required to obtain an authorization to sell their technologies to the Chinese company.
The US Department of Commerce has “Announced to US computer chip makers that they had to obtain licenses before selling certain technologies to the main Chinese semiconductor maker”, indicates the economic daily Saturday. The announcement was notified on Friday by a “Letter addressed to the computer chip industry”, and that “Indicates that exports to Smic or its subsidiaries risk being used for Chinese military activities”, specifies Wall Street Journal.
Washington particularly suspects Smic of providing “Assistance to the Chinese defense establishment”, according to people close to the case cited by the newspaper, who explains that “The Trump administration is increasingly concerned about Beijing’s practice of relying on private companies to advance its military objectives”. Asked by Agence France-Presse (AFP), the trade department had not responded on Saturday morning.
Battle for dominance of the high-tech sector
This announcement comes as the download of the TikTok application, which belongs to a Chinese group and which is accused of spying for the benefit of Beijing, must be banned in the United States from Sunday evening, unless agreed or intervened by a judge on Sunday.
China and the United States have been fighting for several years for the domination of the high-tech sector, which the Chinese mobile phone maker Huawei has paid the price, blacklisted by the Trump administration.
SMIC is the biggest chip maker in China. It is also one of the key companies in China’s ambition to one day achieve autonomy in semiconductors. Because Beijing seeks to break the country’s dependence on foreign chips, especially American, the United States being the main suppliers of this equipment.
The US Department of Commerce announced in May its ambition to prevent the purchase by minimum wage of foreign semiconductors. SMIC then denounced sanctions that threaten its “Survival”.