Picture: 123RF/SASHKIN7
Picture: 123RF/SASHKIN7

The restrictions the US has reportedly imposed on exports to China’s leading silicon chip maker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), on the basis that there is an “unacceptable risk” equipment supplied to it could be used for military purposes, should come as no surprise given its previous actions.

It is due to US pressure since 2018 that the Netherlands has blocked its Advanced Semiconductor Material Lithograph from exporting its new generation lithography machine — a key item for making world-class chips — to the Chinese company.

Yet the allegation that SMIC is producing chips for the military is ridiculous. The chips it produces are generations away from those meeting the requirements for military use. Its manufacturing processes lag far behind the industry leaders and it cannot squeeze the required number of transistors onto a piece of silicon to support military applications.

By ordering suppliers of certain equipment to SMIC to apply for individual export licences, as it has done for those supplying Huawei, Washington is actually trying to gain the upper hand over the global supply chains of the telecom and information industries.

Washington’s approach is no different regarding algorithms. For example, with its looting of TikTok, the most popular short video sharing app in the US, Washington is intent on letting US companies take control of it by preventing it from being downloaded and denying it support services — cutting off the app from users.

The national security and data security concerns the US administration cites to justify its attacks on foreign companies are nothing but a pretence for hegemony, taking advantage of the US’s strengths in some infrastructural products and systems in certain industries to grab global technological and commercial dominance.

The result is a reversal of the process of economic globalisation as countries retract into their respective shells fearing they might otherwise come into the crosshairs of the US.

The world is confronted by many common challenges that entail countries pooling their resources, wisdom and resolve. It is therefore absurd that thanks to one country they are compelled to dig their respective foxholes to not only fight alone, but more importantly, fight against one another. /Beijing, September 29

China Daily

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