Dutch media: US export controls against China marred by compromises and falling short of goals

Amanda Liang, Taipei; Jingyue Hsiao, DIGITIMES Asia 0

As Washington reportedly plans to update its export curbs against China in October, an analysis report by a Dutch media posits that the previous export curbs imposed a year ago exposed the Biden Administration seem to have no clear idea of their objectives.

According to Dutch media Bits&Chips, the semiconductor restrictions against China are likely a product of the US struggle between hawks and doves concerning the China issue, leading to loopholes and a lack of clear goals.

To consider the interests of US-based semiconductor equipment and material suppliers, the US government allows the delivery of equipment that may be used to make advanced chips, highlighting the incompleteness and inconsistency of the curbs.

The US Bureau of Industry and Security set a threshold that requires exporters to get a license before shipping to China for equipment that can make logic chips with FinFET or GAAFET architecture of 16/14nm or below. However, the current export controls are insufficient if US export controls aim to deny China's production capabilities of 14nm and below.

For example, ASML's NXT:1980Di, capable of making 7nm chips using multiple patterning, is not subject to the current curbs. Suppliers, such as Applied Materials, Lam Research, and KLA, continue to deliver advanced products to China.

On the other hand, the US may not achieve its intended results if it aims to prevent China's progress in the semiconductor industry, as demonstrated by Huawei's Mate 60 Pro, which highlights the fact that China can make advanced chips without advanced equipment.

As Reuters reported that the US is reportedly expected to unveil an update for the export controls in the coming days, it may be challenging for related suppliers to adapt to tighter controls if the US tries to close the loopholes.