Major European chipmakers say they are seeking to stabilize their businesses in China as export controls in Washington complicate global supply chain operations.
The chief executives of STMicroelectronics, Infineon and NXP Semiconductors said Monday that while they comply with Washington’s export restrictions against China’s semiconductor sector, they have no plans to halt operations in the Asian country, the world’s second-largest economy.
The comments came during Electronica’s CEO Roundtable event in Munich, one of Europe’s largest semiconductor trade fairs.
“[China] “We just want the world to provide us with stability,” said Jean-Marc Cherry, CEO of STMicroelectronics. “We can adapt to changes, but if we change every six months, it will be difficult.”
In early October, the US Department of Commerce launched a new round of export control measures to limit China’s ability to build advanced computing and artificial intelligence technologies by restricting access to US technologies.
European companies that provide tools used in chip production, such as ASML, and European chipmakers are less affected by the new rules than American companies, as their products for the Chinese market are more about mature chip production technologies, rather than the advanced ones targeted by Washington.
However, European chip companies worry that geopolitical uncertainty caused by escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing could disrupt their operations in China. The Financial Times reported Sunday that Joe Biden’s administration was trying to forge a trilateral agreement with Japan and the Netherlands to make it more difficult for China to build advanced chips for military use.
“[The new export controls] It didn’t affect us. Of course, nobody knows what the next event will look like, NXP CEO Kurt Sievers told the Financial Times on the sidelines of the event.
Sievers said that while NXP’s business in China is not affected by the new rules, it has advised its US national employees to cease any contacts with customers in China involved in semiconductor manufacturing since the rules went into effect last month.
“We don’t know exactly how to read the rules, but we have an absolute obligation to comply at all times,” Sievers said. “So we took it very literally and carefully. It doesn’t change our business, but it does make working in China a little bit more complicated.”