The level of advanced semiconductors made by South Korean companies in China will likely be limited by the United States, a senior U.S. official said.
South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, the world’s top memory chip makers, received a one-year pardon from U.S. export restrictions which was aimed at defeating Beijing’s technological ambitions and blocking its military advances.
“What will likely be is a cap on the levels that they can grow to in China,” said the U.S. Commerce Department’s undersecretary for industry and security, Alan Estevez, when asked about the aftermath of the waiver ending.
On Thursday Estevez, who oversees tech exports restriction to China made these comments during a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which is a Washington-based think tank.
“If you’re at whatever layer of NAND, we will stop it somewhere in that range,” Estevez said, while he was referring to a flash memory product that was produced by Samsung and SK. The U.S. government was in deep dialogue with the South Korean chipmakers, he added.
“We work with them to ensure that we aren’t going to harm our allies’ companies. At the same time, we’re going to impede the Chinese capability of building capabilities that are going to threaten us collectively,” he said.
On Friday, the industry ministry of South Korea said no specific discussions were made between South Korea and the US about setting a cap on the technology level.
No comment was made by Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix was not available for comment immediately.
Samsung and SK Hynix, which occupy about half of the global NAND flash memory chips market, have heavily invested in China in recent decades for producing chips vital to customers including companies like Apple and Amazon.