The United States and China conflict over the microprocessor/chip industry in South Korea has the Asian country caught in the middle of a dispute between the two world’s biggest powers.
In recent years, the semiconductor industry has been greatly important for the peninsular country. Due to this reason, it is included in the list of strategic technologies. In spite of the United States and China being mentioned as the protagonist of this dispute, it is noticeable that there are other nations that have taken a role in this situation, and South Korea is one of them.
On one hand, the main manufacturers, Samsung and SK Hynix, depend on Biden’s government to obtain some patents. And, on the other hand, the Xi Jinping government buys 40% of the chips from South Korea. As a result, the Chinese country is arguably the companies’ most important client, which is highly valuable for the Korean economy, according to Yoon Suk Yeol.
In this line, South Korea has two tasks to accomplish to keep its status in the market: submit to the controls of the United States, and continue to maintain its commercial ties with the Chinese. For instance, Samsung, which has a number of its factories in China, is currently enjoying a one-year exemption that allows them to install factories with advanced lithographic equipment without any type of authorization. However, this benefit will be only effective until the end of 2023.
As a result of the previous situations, South Korean manufacturers are now asking their government for protection, as the country’s technological capacity could potentially be at risk, by being in the middle of a “chip war.”