South Korea Announces Participation in “Chip4” Consultation

On August 18, according to a Reuters report, South Korea’s foreign minister said today that South Korea is expected to attend the preliminary consultation meeting of the”Chip Quad Alliance” (hereinafter referred to as Chip4) led by the United States.

The concept of the so-called “chip quadrilateral alliance” was born in March this year, which is a part of the “combination punch” of the United States to curb the development of China’s semiconductor industry.

In March of this year, the United States invited South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and the United States to form an industrial alliance that is mutually beneficial and isolated to the outside, in an attempt to curb the development of the chip field in mainland China.

The Taiwan authorities have responded positively to the proposal to reach a deeper level of cooperation with the United States on semiconductors. The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, visited TSMC on the first stop of her visit to Taiwan, to discuss cooperation in the semiconductor field.

However, in stark contrast to the fiery fight between Taiwan and the United States, South Korea has not been caught off guard and has been taking a cautious approach.

On the one hand, because of the zero-sum game thinking of the United States, being friends with the United States often means standing on the opposite side of China.

The “Chip and Science Act” that Biden just signed this month has a “guardrail clause” full of zero-sum game thinking: once the subsidy provided by the bill is accepted, it will not be allowed to expand advanced production in mainland China for ten years. capacity. If a business violates this provision, the U.S. Department of Commerce will have the right to withdraw the entire grant.

However, South Korean semiconductor companies have been operating in mainland China for many years and have invested heavily in China. South Korea is reluctant to give up its interests in China easily.

In fact, semiconductors are South Korea’s number one export item, while China is its largest trading partner.

At present, Samsung Electronics has a NAND flash memory production base in Xi’an, China, and Hynix, also a South Korean chip leader, also has a DRAM production facility in Wuxi. After Hynix acquired some of Intel’s assets last year, it also owns Dalian. NAND flash factory.

In addition to manufacturing plants, Samsung and SK Hynix also have packaging plants in Suzhou and Chongqing, respectively.

Therefore, South Korea’s previous response to “Chip4” was indifferent, and it has repeatedly expressed its unwillingness to “stimulate China” by joining the alliance. In particular, South Korea does not agree with the alliance’s suggestion that my country’s Taiwan region is regarded as a “country” and that it excludes the semiconductor industry in my country’s mainland.

According to foreign media Pulse, an unnamed senior official at South Korea’s Ministry of Economic Affairs said in an interview, “Beijing should be convinced that this move is not to create a technology security alliance to isolate China, but to strengthen cross-border chips. synergies in the field.”

Earlier, South Korea’s “Daily Economic” reported that the South Korean government decided to propose to the United States two basic principles based on “participating countries respect China’s position and the one-China principle” and “no mention of export restrictions to China” as South Korea’s participation in “Chip4”. Conditions of consultation meeting.

It is not difficult to see that neither the South Korean government nor Samsung, Hynix and other leading semiconductor companies in South Korea are willing to destroy relations with China for the sake of the poisonous “olive branch” of the United States, thereby harming their interests.

On the other hand, in the fields of semiconductor manufacturing and other fields, Korean companies also have direct competition with companies such as Intel and Micron in the United States. Cooperation with the United States may weaken South Korea’s competitiveness in semiconductors.

On the track of chip manufacturing, the “little brothers” also have their own ambitions, and they are not willing to follow Uncle Sam’s lead.

Taiwanese media have reported similar concerns before. Taiwan’s “Lianhe Zaobao” reported that if Taiwan joins the alliance and relocates its semiconductor industry to the United States, it may “hollow out” Taiwan in the long run, making it lose its role in semiconductor industry. The industry’s “silicon shield”.

Moreover, in cooperation with the United States, or even relocating industries to the United States, various efforts to strengthen the chip manufacturing industry in the United States may not even achieve a good result in the end. TSMC founder Zhang Zhongmou once commented that setting up a manufacturing plant in the United States is “expensive and useless.”

In the eyes of some people, “Chip4” is more like an American one-man show, and the so-called “cooperation” between “Uncle Sam” and South Korea, Japan and Taiwan is semi-threatening.

Guo Zhengliang, a former “legislator” in Taiwan, once said in an interview with the media that Japanese semiconductors flourished in the 1980s, the United States teamed up with South Korea’s Samsung to fight Japan, and now Taiwan and South Korea monopolize logic chips and memory chips, the United States intends to repeat history, if If Taiwan and South Korea do not give in, they will join forces with Japan to fight Samsung and TSMC, and the timetable for launching 2-nanometer chips is exactly the same as that of TSMC.

However, in the face of the hegemonic stick of “Uncle Sam”, Taiwan and Samsung, which are ahead of the United States in the semiconductor manufacturing industry, may eventually have to get on this thief ship whether they respond positively or cannot help themselves.

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