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Chinese chip giant SMIC ‘in shock’ after US trade ban threat

it told the Bloomberg news agency over the weekend.

“We have no relationship with the Chinese military. Any assumptions of the company’s ties with the Chinese military are untrue statements and false accusations.”

Even so, this was not enough to avoid a sell-off on Monday.

SMIC’s Hong Kong-based shares dropped 23% while those traded via a secondary listing in Shanghai fell 11%. In total, more than $6bn was wiped off its market value, according to the Financial Times.

Company-watchers have also cast doubt over its claims to independence.

Mr Windsor has noted that Datang Telecom Group is one of SMIC’s biggest shareholders, as well as being a board member and customer. It supplies equipment to the People’s Liberation Army.

“[This] provides a fairly strong link to the military, which seems to contradict SMIC’s own statements,” he wrote in a research note.

Elsewhere, the Financial Times said an unnamed US defence contractor has compiled a report claiming that SMIC had manufactured devices for researchers at universities affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army.

The BBC has asked SMIC to respond to both points.

Tech independence

The trade blacklist would be damaging to SMIC’s prospects.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionRestrictions on SMIC could set back President Xi’s Made in China 2025 initiative

But it could also give fresh impetus to Beijing’s goal of being less dependent on Western tech.

As of 2019, only 16% of computer chips used in China were produced domestically, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) think tank.

Beijing wants that figure to be 70% by 2025. The Chinese Communist Party’s leaders reportedly plan to reveal further support for the sector in October.

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CSIS has said that while export controls may slow China down, Washington should also consider providing financial support to its domestic semiconductor industry too.

“The United States is coasting on spending over science, research, and technology that dates to the 1980s,” blogged researcher James Andrew Lewis.

“To defend ourselves, federal investment in technology is needed again.”

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