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US imposes restrictions on SMIC, China's largest chipmaker

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The US government has imposed export restrictions on China's largest silicon chipmaker after concluding that there is an "unacceptable risk" that the equipment supplied to it could be used for military purposes.

Suppliers of certain equipment to Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) will now have to apply for individual export licenses, according to a letter from the Commerce Department dated Friday and seen by Reuters.

SMIC becomes the second-largest Chinese tech company to face US trade hurdles after telecoms giant Huawei Technologies, whose access to high-end chips has been restricted by being added to the so-called list of entities.

The Pentagon said earlier this month that it was considering the blacklisting of SMIC, which US authorities have identified as a threat due to an alleged "merger" of civilian and military technologies.

SMIC said it had not received any official notification of the restrictions and said it had no ties to the Chinese military.

"SMIC reiterates that it manufactures semiconductors and provides services for civil and commercial end-uses and users only," said SMIC.

The Commerce Department declined to comment specifically on SMIC on Saturday, but said its Bureau of Industry and Security was "constantly monitoring and evaluating any potential threats to US national security and foreign policy interests."

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