According to the Financial Times, the United States has requested South Korea to discourage its chipmakers from filling in any potential market gap in China, in case Micron, a memory chipmaker, is banned from selling its chips in the country. Four individuals familiar with the talks stated that the request was made as South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is preparing to visit Washington on Monday.
In March, the Cyberspace Administration of China stated that it would conduct a cybersecurity assessment of Micron’s products sold in China, sparking concerns about a potential ban. Micron said it was collaborating with the Chinese authorities and that its operations in the country were normal.
The US has implemented a range of export controls on chip-making technology to China, citing concerns that it could be used to produce chips for military purposes. Several of China’s leading chip companies, including Micron rival Yangtze Memory Technologies Co Ltd, have been blacklisted.
The report suggests that Washington has asked Seoul to urge Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix to limit sales to China if Micron is banned as a result of the investigation. The US fears that, without such a request, South Korean chipmakers may step in to fill the void left by Micron, jeopardizing national security.
The United States has been embroiled in a long-running trade dispute with China, with technology at the center of the dispute. In addition to export controls, Washington has also pushed its allies to restrict the use of Chinese technology in their telecoms infrastructure, particularly that of Huawei Technologies.
The development highlights the United States’ efforts to maintain control over chip-making technology and prevent China from gaining a technological advantage, particularly in military applications. It also highlights the potential impact of geopolitical tensions on global supply chains, particularly in the semiconductor industry, which has faced significant disruption in recent years.