According to reports from the Financial Times, the United States has requested that South Korea urge its chipmakers to refrain from filling any market gap in China if Beijing bans memory chipmaker Micron Technology from selling chips. This request was made ahead of South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s visit to the US on Monday for a summit with President Joe Biden.
Yoon’s visit to the US from April 24-29 will be the first state visit to the country by a South Korean leader since 2011 and will mark the 70th anniversary of the countries’ alliance. As part of this visit, Washington has asked Seoul to encourage Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix to hold back from boosting sales to China if Micron is banned as a result of an investigation by Beijing.
The Chinese cyberspace regulator announced in March that it would conduct a security review of Micron’s products sold in the country. Micron has stated that it is cooperating with the Chinese government, and its operations in the country are normal.
The US has imposed a series of export controls on chipmaking technology to China out of fear that it could be used to produce chips for military applications. It has also blacklisted several of China’s largest chip firms, including Micron rival Yangtze Memory Technologies Co Ltd.
The White House has not commented on the FT report but has stated that the Biden and Yoon administrations have made efforts to coordinate investments in the semiconductor sector, secure critical technologies, and address economic coercion.
The semiconductor industry is a crucial component of both South Korea and the United States’ economies. Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are two of the world’s largest memory chipmakers, and their cooperation with the US could have significant implications for the global semiconductor market.
South Korea and the US have been working together to address concerns about China’s growing influence in the semiconductor industry. The two countries have established a joint working group to promote cooperation in the sector and have also signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on the development of advanced semiconductor technologies.
The US has been particularly concerned about China’s efforts to develop its own semiconductor industry, which it sees as a potential threat to its own technological dominance. China has been investing heavily in the sector, with a goal of becoming self-sufficient in chip production by 2025.
South Korea is also a major player in the semiconductor industry, with companies like Samsung and SK Hynix accounting for a significant portion of global memory chip production. The country has been working to expand its semiconductor industry and reduce its reliance on Japan for key materials and equipment.
The US has been working to strengthen its ties with South Korea in recent years, particularly in the area of defense. The two countries have signed a number of agreements aimed at enhancing their military cooperation, including a new agreement in 2019 that allows South Korea to increase its purchases of US weapons.
Overall, the US is likely to continue to seek closer ties with South Korea in the coming years as it seeks to counter China’s growing influence in the region. The semiconductor industry is likely to be a key area of cooperation between the two countries, given its importance to both economies.