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US official notes Korean firms' move not to sell used chip equipment to China as 'encouraging'

March 22, 2024 - 09:29 By Yonhap
This photo, taken on Dec. 12, 2023, shows Alan Estevez, US under secretary of commerce for industry and security, speaking during a forum in Washington. (Yonhap)

A senior US official on Thursday portrayed South Korean companies' reported move to stop selling used semiconductor manufacturing equipment to China as "encouraging," as Washington has been seeking tighter export controls on key technologies amid an intensifying Sino-US rivalry.

Alan Estevez, under secretary of commerce for industry and security, made the remarks in his written statement to a hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, entitled "Countering China on the World Stage: Empowering American Businesses and Denying Chinese Military Our Technology.

"It has been encouraging to see allies and partners recognizing the threat the PRC and others pose and taking appropriate actions to address security concerns regarding semiconductors and other emerging technologies, through their domestic legal systems," he said in the statement. PRC stands for China's official name, the People's Republic of China.

"It has been reported that key South Korean firms intend to no longer sell used semiconductor manufacturing equipment to the PRC. Also, the governments of the Netherlands and Japan have announced and implemented controls on semiconductor manufacturing equipment," he noted.

Last week, the Financial Times reported that Samsung Electronics Co. and SK hynix Inc. stopped selling their old chip producing equipment as Washington has called on them to come in tune with its semiconductor export controls.

During the hearing, Estevez pointed out that the United States has been seeking controls on the servicing and components of equipment already sent to China before export restrictions went into effect.

"I am racking up frequent flyer miles, talking to our allies about what they are doing, how they are doing it and making sure that we have parity between US companies and the companies in our allied nations so that we are all having similar controls," he said.

At a forum in December, Estevez said that the US, South Korea and other allies were in "preliminary" talks over the idea of creating a new export control regime to prevent cutting-edge technologies, including semiconductors and quantum computing, from being transferred to potential adversaries. (Yonhap)