Could Pat Gelsinger and Lisa Su be more receptive than Donald Trump and Joe Biden?
For several months now, the United States has been playing the trade war card with China to the fullest and taking measures aimed at preventing Chinese companies from gaining access to certain technologies. Many of them are on the famous blacklist of the American administration, which has the concrete effect of limiting the technological portfolio to which they have access, even of hampering their production capacity. The most emblematic example is of course Huawei, but this list includes around sixty companies from many sectors.
A committee headed by the Chinese government
To circumvent the measures taken by the United States to slow down its forward march, the Chinese government wants to create a special committee according to a Nikkei report. Its mission: to solicit American companies, including Intel and AMD, but also European ones, such as ASML in Holland and Infineon Technologies in Germany, as well as Japanese companies to create a supply chain beyond the reach of American sanctions.
This committee intended to seduce these foreign companies would be called the “cross-border working committee on semiconductors”. Naturally, China’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology would oversee it.
Nikkei indicates that some of the companies courted by China would be quite willing to accept the advances made to them. The media reports the remarks of an anonymous executive of one of these companies, who believes that ” for many semiconductor companies, China is one of the biggest growth markets in terms of sales, they can therefore not ignore the demands of the Chinese government ”. Another temper: “ We will seek to develop our activities in China insofar as it does not conflict with the regulations of the United States and other countries ”.
Precedents, and a court in which not only China engages
This is not the first time that China has tried to forge partnerships with foreign firms. A few years ago, for example, AMD collaborated with THAT ( Tianjin Haiguang Advanced Technology Investment Co. Ltd. ) around x86 processors mainly based on the Zen CPU architecture. We should also mention the Taiwanese firm Via Technologies which, a few months ago, sold IPs to Chinese companies, and whose joint venture with the municipal government of Shanghai had also led to the creation of Zhaoxin in 2013. Finally, the company Innosilicon, which contributed to the development of dedicated graphics cards unveiled recently, presents itself on its site as ” the only technology partner in China with access to 5nm processes from Samsung and TSMC .”
On the other hand, China is not the only one to wink at the giants of the semiconductor sector. The European Union wishes to host an Intel factory in particular; and if the company says it is willing to establish itself on European soil, it conditions this decision on a few billion euros in subsidies…
Of course, the political context is different in China and Europe. As the Nikkei reporter points out, companies that agree to join China’s game may find it difficult to juggle US sanctions and Chinese demands. And that’s without counting on possible ethical considerations: at the end of the year, Intel alienated the Chinese government by refusing to supply itself in the Xinjiang region. Afterward, let’s not be naive: no need to be cynical to consider that business will prevail over morality.