Have you ever wondered how the global politics of technology, especially in the realm of semiconductors, can create waves in international trade and industry strategies? What happens when a major player like China surges its imports of chipmaking equipment, despite facing significant curbs?
The Surge in Chipmaking Equipment Imports by China
A Remarkable Increase Amid Trade Controls
China’s semiconductor manufacturing equipment imports soared by 93% in the last quarter, signifying a robust push to boost its chipmaking capabilities. This surge comes despite stringent trade controls by the U.S. and its allies.
Lithography equipment, critical for forming nanometer-scale circuit patterns, saw a nearly fourfold growth in imports. Notably, the imports from the Netherlands, home to ASML – a leading supplier in this domain – increased more than sixfold.
Following the U.S. imposition of tougher export controls in October 2022, Japan and the Netherlands introduced similar measures. These controls, particularly from the Netherlands, require a licensing process for exporting certain advanced lithography equipment, potentially impacting the supply timeline.
The Implications for Global Semiconductor Industry
China’s Growing Share in ASML’s Sales
China now accounts for a significant 46% of ASML’s sales1, a substantial increase from the previous year. Despite sanctions targeting advanced semiconductors, these sales focus on mid-critical and mature production processes, aligning with current export regulations.
Technological Advancement Despite Limitations
China’s advancements in semiconductor manufacturing are notable. For instance, Huawei’s recent smartphone launch featuring advanced 7-nanometer chips suggests significant progress. This development raises concerns about the potential use of imported equipment in high-end semiconductor production, despite trade restrictions.
The Diverse Sources of China’s Imports
While imports from the U.S. have grown modestly, the American share in China’s semiconductor equipment imports has decreased. In contrast, the Netherlands has seen a notable increase in its share. Japan, another key player, also witnessed a significant rise in exports to China, especially in lithography and etching equipment.
- https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Tech/Semiconductors/China-s-chipmaking-equipment-imports-surge-93-despite-curbs ↩︎