China's chip tool imports rise 80% ahead of US restrictions
New data from Chinese customs reveals that imports of semiconductor-manufacturing equipment rose by 80% in the year to October.
Reports in the South China Morning Post (SCMP) said imports of various chip-making tools – for manufacturing silicon wafers, integrated circuits (ICs) and flat-panel displays – totalled USD 4.3 billion in October. That's up by USD 2.4 billion year on year.
The spike clearly reflects the efforts by Chinese companies to stockpile chip-making tools in anticipation of further restrictions by Washington. The US Bureau of Industry and Security introduced various controls in 2022, and then in October it added restrictions on lithography equipment, and tools for etching and film deposition.
The new controls will impact firms such as Netherlands-based ASML. It has a monopoly on extreme ultraviolet lithography machines, which are used to produce cutting-edge chips. It has not supplied these machines to China since 2019. But it has continued to sell its less-advanced deep ultraviolet lithography systems to clients in China. The new ruling could impact these sales.
SCMP reports that the the total value of chip imports from January to November was down 16.5% year on year to USD 316.6 billion. This was an improvement from the 18.8% drop in value in the first 10 months of the year.