Washington and Nvidia should not be ‘Catch me if you can’: Global Times editorial
Published: Nov 11, 2023 12:17 AM
chip Photo:VCG

chip Photo: VCG

According to media reports, Nvidia is planning to release three new artificial intelligence chips tailor-made for China to avoid the US government's further tightened chip export restrictions on the country. Nvidia could announce them on November 16, less than a month after Washington tightened the rules on selling high-end AI chips to China. Nvidia has refused to comment on this, but if the news is true, this will be the second time in more than a year that Nvidia has reconfigured its products for the Chinese market due to the US government's export restrictions. After all, it is compelled by Washington's policies.

In fact, while the US government continues to push forward cut-throat measures against China, US semiconductor companies have been looking for various "workarounds" to achieve the purpose of complying with government regulations while avoiding losses. In addition to the practical factor of gaining huge profits in the Chinese market, Chinese companies' accelerated independent innovation has also made them feel the pressure of competition and worry about losing their long-term advantages. In July, Intel also launched a customized AI chip for the Chinese market.

Some people say that the US government and Nvidia have started a game of "Catch me if you can." On the surface, this seems to be the case, but this metaphor blurs the essence of the issue and confuses right and wrong. The several rounds between Nvidia and the US government are the story of a high-tech enterprise that does legitimate business but encounters strong political interference in free trade, and tries every means to ensure its own survival and development. For commercial companies, this is not funny at all, and even a bit sad.

The US' chip export restrictions against China are unreasonable. They are not only harmful to China's interests, but also to the US'. More and more people have seen this and hope that Washington will make adjustments. What the US government has done makes normal and legitimate transactions tremble with fear, creating an intense atmosphere in the market. Of course, Nvidia is not the only example of US companies affected by this.

Nvidia's market value had reached $1 trillion at one point. Whenever the US government introduced restrictions on chip exports to China, its stock plummeted. However, when Nvidia sought ways to circumvent these restrictions, its stock rose. The capital market has provided the most authentic response to this matter. Revenue from the Chinese market accounts for about a fifth of Nvidia's total income. From the company's perspective, this is by no means a massive market that can be abandoned. Nvidia's attention to and persistence in the Chinese market reflect the fundamental logic of a market economy at work.

It is not difficult to imagine that as long as Washington remains committed to "choking" China, the game of "Catch me if you can" will continue indefinitely. In this sense, the "loopholes" that the US is trying to close will never be completely fixed, and they will only find themselves in an awkward situation of pressing one end of the gourd only to make the other end float up. On the other hand, this will inevitably force and accelerate the process of independent innovation in high-tech industries in China. Some industry insiders believe that there will be two "parallel universes" in the future, with China and the US each forming a complete technology industry chain and supply chain. In the context of the increasingly stringent US export control policies on chips to China, this is a very realistic expectation.

A wealth of facts has already proven that extreme pressure cannot halt China's development. The wellspring of international exchange is also essential for technological innovation. For the US, going against the tide is fundamentally impractical, and it is inevitable that future measures will face even stronger resistance from various directions. At the just-concluded sixth China International Import Expo, the total number of participating US semiconductor companies increased, with Micron Technology and Advanced Micro Devices participating for the first time. Among the exhibitors, there were also voices calling for the US to relax export controls. These legitimate appeals, juxtaposed with the political maneuvering of Washington politicians, will form a game that will only intensify the internal conflicts within the US.

China and the US will eventually return to the path of cooperation, and Nvidia's example vividly demonstrates the strength of the mutually beneficial bond. What Washington needs to do is not "closing loopholes," but to lift its gaze and recognize how extensive the common interests between China and the US are. These interests are substantial enough to accommodate the shared development of both countries. Whether it chooses to expand the cake or compete with itself, Washington doesn't have to be so entangled.