Tech War or Phony War? America’s Porous Controls on Semiconductor Fabrication Equipment and China’s Response

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This article assesses the effectiveness of the Biden administration’s export
controls on semiconductor fabrication (chipmaking) equipment targeting
China and China’s response. America’s licensing for chipmaking equipment
has been surprisingly loose since Biden expanded the range of controls in
October 2022. Thus, while China has not made much headway in replacing
critical American, Dutch, and Japanese equipment, the setbacks to China’s
advanced chipmaking have been less than originally anticipated. SMIC’s
ability to make chips for Huawei’s Mate 60 Pro is a direct result of loose
licensing. The recent revisions of American controls in October 2023, and the
Dutch and Japanese controls also announced in 2023, may make it
substantially more difficult for China to advance, particularly by limiting
lithography sales, but ultimately the future efficacy of these technology
controls depends on changing American licensing practices as well as on
revising the rules behind them.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChina Leadership Monitor
Issue number78
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

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