42 countries including the United States and Japan strengthen export control of semiconductor technology to prevent outflow to China

category:Finance
 42 countries including the United States and Japan strengthen export control of semiconductor technology to prevent outflow to China


According to reports, semiconductors are the basic components of many modern weapon systems, and China has the ability to independently manufacture military related integrated circuits. But in the past few years, Chinese military enterprises have been forced to develop independently, and the latest ban is expected.

In fact, while the Wassenaar agreement restricts the export of international advanced technologies and equipment to China, the nerves of the United States are particularly sensitive, which has successively blocked Chinas acquisition of Czech radar enterprises, helped Italy launch satellites and purchased Dutch photolithography machines.

However, the constraints of European and American countries also appeared a lot of lifting stones to hit their own feet. For example, the above-mentioned agreement once hit the momentum of building is not as good as buying in China, stimulated the independent breakthrough of Chinese military enterprises, and made Beidou system, zhi20 and J20 appear one after another.

To some extent, the current blocking of Chinas semiconductors by the United States is a blessing depends on disaster. And it is entirely possible for China to counter attack again in this field.

According to Kyodo news agency, 42 countries, including the United States and Japan, which have joined the Wassenaar agreement, have expanded their control scope and added semiconductor substrate manufacturing technology and military level network software that can be converted to military in order to strengthen the defense against conversion to military use and cyber attacks.

The main purpose of the move is to prevent technology from flowing out to China, North Korea and other countries, the report said.

According to the data, the worlds major industrial equipment and weapon manufacturing countries signed the Wassenaar agreement in 1996 to control the export of sensitive technologies such as conventional weapons and dual-use military and civilian technologies to China, North Korea and other countries. Besides the United States and Japan, there are also Britain, Russia, India and South Korea.

According to the agreement, all Member States must agree to carry out the control. At the meeting of Export Administration held in Austria in December last year, representatives of all countries agreed to expand the control objects.

High performance silicon wafer is an indispensable part in the manufacture of the most advanced semiconductor chip designed with nanometer level fine light. According to the report, if the domestic manufacturers of high-performance semiconductor substrate materials wafer become the controlled objects, the export of products and related technologies must apply for a license.

In response, a domestic military expert told the global times on the 24th that semiconductors are an essential part of many modern weapon systems. Because it is very important for national security to understand the above technologies, China has developed to be fully capable of independently manufacturing military related integrated circuits.

Insiders at another military related plant say some Chinese military companies have been on the U.S. entity list for a long time. In the past few years, Chinese military enterprises have been forced to develop independently, which is very similar to Huaweis situation. This restriction is also expected.

According to a report recently obtained by the global times, military semiconductors account for about 2% of Chinas total weapons expenditure, and the market potential is expected to reach 6 billion yuan (853 million US dollars) every year.

Affected by the regulation of Wassenaar agreement, China will import and develop military grade semiconductor substrate industry or technology in the future or suffer some resistance. But Huachuang Securities believes that domestic companies engaged in research and development of related technology products will benefit.

The US plans to catch up Huawei

Americas suppression of Chinas semiconductors has long been premeditated, and its moving step by step.

Picture from the Wall Street Journal

This will cut off Chinas access to key semiconductor technologies, US chip industry sources said.

The report said the U.S. Department of commerce is drafting changes to the so-called foreign direct product rule, which restricts foreign companies from using U.S. technology for military or national security products. All companies around the world who intend to use US equipment and produce chips for Huawei must obtain US license.

It is reported that the semiconductor equipment foreign giant company oligopoly. The top four semiconductor equipment companies in the world are Amat (application materials), ASML (ASML) in the Netherlands, Lam research in the United States and Tel (Tokyo Electronics), accounting for more than 60% of the total market.

Their goal [in the US] is not to want any chip manufacturer around the world to produce anything for Huawei, people familiar with the matter said But while the move is aimed at slowing Chinas technological progress, it could disrupt the global semiconductor supply chain and weaken the growth of many U.S. companies, the semiconductor industry said.

The U.S. governments restrictions on Huaweis business may hit the sales of TSMC to Huawei, the worlds largest chip manufacturer, and affect TSMCs investment in R & D. According to industry estimates, TSMCs total sales last year exceeded $35 billion, more than 10% of which came from Hisilicon technology, Huaweis chip manufacturing subsidiary.

It is reported that last year, after the US imposed restrictions on the sale of chips to China, some companies could continue to ship chips through a rule that allows them to continue to sell chips to China when the products or technologies manufactured in the US are less than 25%. The U.S. Department of Commerce has proposed to reduce the threshold to 10%, and is scheduled to hold a meeting on February 28.

So far, a Huawei spokesman declined to comment on what might happen if the new rules were implemented. But American Applied Materials Inc. (Amat) and lamresearch Corp. (lrcx) have not responded.

Us uses agreement for many times

According to the reports of Kyodo News Agency and the Wall Street Journal, it can be found that the United States has surrounded Huawei in many ways at home and abroad, while the world has used the so-called cut off supply of semiconductors that can be converted into military semiconductors in the Wassenaar agreement. Us measures to block Chinese semiconductors are upgrading.

In fact, prior to the semiconductor substrate materials and manufacturing technology, the Wassenaar agreement not only restricted the export of high-end technologies and equipment, but also started China many times under the intervention and utilization of the United States.

Under the agreement, the list of export restrictions includes: special materials and related equipment, materials processing, electronics, computers, telecommunications, information security, sensors and lasers, navigation and avionics, marine related, aerospace and propulsion technologies.

Among them, the list of dual-use technologies and military products is 234 pages long, and almost all hard core technologies are included in it.

The Wassenaar Arrangement

In 2004, the Czech government approved the Czech arms export company to sell 10 Vera radar systems with a total value of US $55.7 million to China. But under pressure from the US, the Czech Republic abruptly cancelled the deal.

The Czech side explained that this was a decision made at the request of great friends who said the radar could help China detect the US stealth aircraft.

Two years later, China and Italian Space Company Alenia signed a cooperation agreement on launching Italian satellites. However, due to the diplomatic pressure from the United States and Italy, Italy finally cancelled the cooperation agreement at the expense of economic and reputation losses.

In addition, on April 16, 2018, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it would prohibit U.S. enterprises from conducting any business with ZTE within seven years on the grounds that ZTE illegally exports to Iran and North Korea, in violation of the agreement reached with the U.S. government. This ban can not be circumvented by the Wassenaar agreement.

Back in the field of semiconductors, limited by the Wassenaar agreement, China has no access to the latest technology and equipment from abroad in many fields such as chip design and production.

Source: Reuters

In May 2018, SMIC purchased an EUV lithography machine from asmall for 120 million US dollars. Under the pressure of the United States, asmair and the Dutch government began to dump the pot each other, and finally at the end of last year, the order and shipment status became waiting for follow-up notice.

On the whole, Chinas chips cant afford it, largely because of the lack of advanced equipment and the constraints of the United States. Among them, Wassenaar agreement is a roadblock.

Lift the stone and hit your own feet

In the past, the export restricted objects of Wassenaar agreement were mainly conventional weapons and some machine tools, etc., but this time, the controlled objects newly added the so-called semiconductor substrate manufacturing technology and military level network software that can be converted into military.

It should be noted that the Wassenaar agreement attempts to curb Chinas actions, often throwing stones at their own feet.

In history, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Wassenaar agreement led by the United States was almost aimed at China, and the control of technology and equipment related to Military was particularly strict.

But to some extent, this agreement has hit the domestic momentum of building is not buying, buying is not renting which was once arrogant, inspired the determination of Chinese military enterprises to break through independently, and won a lot of funds.

At present, if there is no framework of Wassenaar agreement and Europe gives way to Galileo system, China may not have Beidou navigation; if the United States does not limit Black Hawk helicopters, China may not have direct 20; if the United States prohibits the sale of F22 or F35, China may not have j-20.

In addition, in the semiconductor industry, at present, China has the ability to independently produce military chips, while the import demand for military semiconductors is still very large, but how to reduce costs and improve quality is a breakthrough.

In the field of civil use, Chinas semiconductor industry has also made many breakthroughs recently. In September 2019, Yangtse storage, a subsidiary of Ziguang group, officially started mass production of its own 64 layer 3dnand flash memory chip. According to analysis, this breakthrough is expected to increase the self-sufficiency rate of Chinas memory chips from 8% to 40%.

At the same time, the 5nm etching machine developed by China micro Semiconductor Equipment Co., Ltd. has also been recognized. Through the verification of TSMC, the 5nm plasma etching machine independently developed by China micro semiconductor has excellent performance. TSMC has prepared to use the etching machine in the worlds first 5nm chip manufacturing line.

At the end of 2019, SMIC built the first 14nm chip production line in China and began to put it into production officially, one year ahead of the production target set in 2020, and squeezed TSMC, and obtained the chip OEM order of Huaweis 14nm FinFET process. On the whole, the US restrictions will delay the development of Chinas chip industry to some extent, because it is difficult for China to find suitable chip manufacturers from other countries in the short term. But its also a double-edged sword. Its possible for China to counter attack again in the semiconductor field like military industry. Source: Wang Xiaowu NF, editor in charge of observer network

At the end of 2019, SMIC built the first 14nm chip production line in China and began to put it into production officially, one year ahead of the production target set in 2020, and squeezed TSMC, and obtained the chip OEM order of Huaweis 14nm FinFET process.

On the whole, the US restrictions will delay the development of Chinas chip industry to some extent, because it is difficult for China to find suitable chip manufacturers from other countries in the short term. But its also a double-edged sword. Its possible for China to counter attack again in the semiconductor field like military industry.