US seeks to ban shipments of chipmaking tools to ‌China’s SMIC

Macro view of modern multicore CPU processor in human hand with PC computer motherboard in background
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The Biden administration is contemplating new restrictions on shipments of chipmaking tools to China.

The move is particularly directed at SMIC, China's largest chipmaker and supplier of Huawei devices. As matters stand, the US Commerce Department is leaning toward a potential ban on exports of tools to Chinese semiconductor factories producing advanced chips with 14nm nodes, or smaller.


The field guide to application modernisation

Moving forward with your enterprise application portfolio


The agency, however, also implied looking at the continued supply of tools to plants making less advanced semiconductors owned by the same Chinese firms.

The comes amid the global chip shortage, which shows no signs of ending this year.

The targeted restrictions will work to ensure a steady supply of commodity chips for automobiles and everyday consumer electronics, as industries continue to recover from the global chip shortage, according to the Department.

The US’ limitations on exports to China also help ensure its technology supremacy.

Commenting on the potential ban, Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said, "By repeatedly seeking to politicize, weaponize and ideologize economic and trade issues and exercise technological blockade and decoupling against other countries, the US would only remind other countries of the risks of technological dependence on the US and prompt them to quickly become independent and self-reliant in science and technology."

SMIC was previously blacklisted by the Trump administration in 2020 after reports of alleged military ties surfaced. Even so, the export ban only applied to a small portion of chipmaking equipment destined for the firm.

“If the Commerce Department plows ahead with the concept, which has not yet been drafted into a formal proposal, the United States would seek to bring on board allied countries that boast top chipmaking equipment producers like the Netherlands, Japan and South Korea,” sources reported to Reuters.