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US Tightens Screws On China’s Top Chipmaker

The Trump administration has slapped new export restrictions on China’s biggest chip manufacturer.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation’s (SMIC) suppliers will have to apply for individual export licences for certain equipment, with the US Commerce Department saying there is an “unacceptable risk” that such equipment could be used for military purposes.

This could impact chip supplies not only to blacklisted Huawei – SMIC’s biggest customer – but to companies including US-owned Qualcomm as well.

In a statement, SMIC insisted it had no ties to the Chinese military, and had not received formal notice of the restrictions.

“SMIC reiterates that it manufactures semiconductors and provides services solely for civilian and commercial end-users and end-uses.

“The Company has no relationship with the Chinese military and does not manufacture for any military end-users or end-uses,” it said.

The move stops short of outright blacklisting SMIC, but will make it more difficult for the chipmaker to source vital equipment and design tools, as the licences now required are hard to obtain.

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