As the US-China semiconductor war intensifies, China is emphasizing strengthening semiconductor cooperation with South Korea. The Korean government and the domestic semiconductor industry draw the line that technological cooperation with China is virtually impossible. However, there are concerns that it will inevitably be ‘caught up’ under pressure from both the US and China over the sale of semiconductors in China.
According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy on the 28th, Ahn Deok-geun, head of the trade negotiations headquarters, had a ministerial-level meeting with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) trade ministers’ meeting held in Detroit on the 26th (local time). At this meeting, Minister of Commerce Wang suggested, “Let’s promote dialogue and cooperation on the semiconductor supply chain,” and Director Ahn agreed in principle. However, it is known that the Ministry of Commerce of China emphasized semiconductor cooperation with Korea to the extent of unilaterally announcing a press statement on the 27th that particularly emphasized semiconductor cooperation between the two countries.
The semiconductor industry sees ‘technical cooperation’ with China as virtually impossible. An official from the domestic semiconductor industry said, “It is difficult to cooperate in memory semiconductor technology, where Korea has an advantage, because it is in fact a ‘technology leak’.” .
However, Samsung and SK are requesting support from the Chinese government to ensure there are no disruptions to the operation of local semiconductor factories in China, and discussions on Korea’s stable supply of semiconductors to Chinese companies can progress. There is also the possibility of negotiating with the supply chain of key semiconductor raw materials. Director Ahn also asked China for interest and support for facilitating trade and stabilizing supply and demand for key raw materials and parts.
The problem is that as the US-China semiconductor conflict grows in the future, the pressure on the Korean government and companies to “choose one side” will increase. Negotiations between the US and South Korea governments regarding easing of semiconductor law guardrails (safety devices) that restrict Chinese semiconductor production if Korean semiconductor companies receive subsidies from the US government are also expected to be a variable.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.