Reports: U.S. tightens exports to China's top chipmaker SMIC
Updated 20:50, 28-Sep-2020

The United States has set restrictions on exports to China's top chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) due to the alleged risk of military use, Reuters reported on Saturday.

U.S. suppliers of certain equipment to SMIC must apply for individual export licenses, according to a letter from the Commerce Department dated Friday, said Reuters claiming to have seen the letter.

Although no official statement is available on the website of the Commerce Department, the Wall Street Journal also said it has seen the copy of the letter, which said exports to SMIC or its subsidiaries "may pose an unacceptable risk of diversion to a military end use."

SMIC told CGTN that it had not received any official notice of the restrictions.

The chipmaker reiterates that it manufactures semiconductors and provides services solely for civilian and commercial end-users and end-users. 

"SMIC has no relationship with the Chinese military and does not manufacture for any military end-users or end-uses," said SMIC.

Earlier this month, Reuters reported that the Pentagon is considering adding the chipmaker to a trade blacklist. SMIC replied, "Any assumptions of the company's ties with the Chinese military are untrue statements and false accusations."

On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the U.S. abuses export controls and other restrictive measures to unreasonably suppress Chinese companies, and China will continue to take necessary measures to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese companies.

SMIC is the largest Chinese chip manufacturer and made its trading debut on Shanghai's Nasdaq-style STAR Market in July, marking China's biggest IPO in a decade. The Shanghai-headquartered chipmaker was listed in Hong Kong and New York in 2004 and delisted from the U.S. last year due to sluggish demand for its shares.

(Cover: Office of SMIC in Beijing, China, September 6, 2020. /CFP)