China's IC imports plunge 15.4% in value as semiconductor self-sufficiency accelerates amid US sanctions
Published: Jan 13, 2024 01:22 AM
Integrated circuit Illustration: VCG

Illustration: VCG

Value of China's integrated circuit (IC) imports plunged 15.4 percent year-on-year in 2023, customs data showed on Friday, with the nation's semiconductor self-sufficiency accelerating amid US curbs, industry analysts said.

According to data from the General Administration of Customs of China, China's IC imports dropped in value by 15.4 percent year-on-year in US dollar terms, while the total import volume saw a decrease of 10.8 percent.

The slump was a further decrease from 2022, when China's IC imports recorded a fall of 3.9 percent compared with 2021 in terms of value. 2022 also marked the year when China's imports of integrated circuits declined for the first time in almost two decades, according to a Bloomberg report.

"The drop in imports was mainly due to US curbs on China," said Zhang Hong, a veteran industry analyst. Zhang said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the nation's chip industry in 2024, with the self-sufficiency effort having increased in 2023.

Zhang believes the turning point was the surprise launch of Huawei's high-end Mate60 series, which is believed to incorporate a domestically made 5G capable chip, serving as a proof of China's ability to make high-end chips despite US sanctions.

The US has been tightening restrictions on exports of chips and chip tools to China, including those of Nvidia. But the only result of the US curbs, which are aimed at safeguarding US technology hegemony and violating the principle of fair competition, is to cut American chip giants out of the Chinese market while facilitating Chinese tech companies' shift to local suppliers.

Experts noted that as more domestic firms are willing to adopt China-made chips amid concerns about risks from the US, the share of Chinese chipmaking firms in the global market will continue to climb.

In December, US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that "over the last few years, we've seen potential signs of concerning practices from (China) to expand their firms' legacy chip production and make it harder for US companies to compete," according to a Reuters report.

By 2027, China's share in mature process (28nm and older) capacity is expected to reach 39 percent with room for further growth if equipment procurement proceeds smoothly, TrendForce, a leading market intelligence provider, said in a statement sent to the Global Times.

Chips have been a key aspect of talks between China and the US. In a phone call with Raimondo on Thursday, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao raised "serious concerns" over US restrictions on third-party countries' exports of a crucial chipmaking tool to China and crackdowns on Chinese firms.

Separately, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) blasted the direct interference of the US in a Dutch company's exports of photolithography machines to China, vowing that China would take necessary measures to protect firms' legal rights and interests.

Global Times