Checkpoint Asia

China Imports $300bn in Chips Yearly, More Than It Spends on Oil

'Brilliant' move from Trump in warning the world's largest chips market by far to look at replacing American suppliers

A fascinating bit of information:

After several decades and billions of dollars of investment, only 16 per cent of semiconductors used in China today are manufactured domestically. Last year, China imported US$312 billion worth of chips to meet domestic demand, exceeding the amount it spends on oil.

As trade war clouds continue to gather, Beijing has stepped up calls for self-sufficiency in core technologies like semiconductors, aiming to produce 40 per cent of the semiconductors it uses by 2020, and 70 per cent by 2025.

I assume many of those chips are again re-exported after assembly into various electronic devices. Also many of them are imported into China by foreign, mainly US, companies with plants in China. Nonetheless it truly shows what a double-edge sword the US sanctions vs Huawei and the implicit threat to China have been. Yes China is highly reliant on semiconductor imports, but at the same time it is an enormous market for them (60% of the world’s total) that nobody can afford to lose.

Apparently the car industry is a major driver of the imports:

Semiconductors play an increasingly vital role in the Chinese auto industry, as can be seen in many areas such as wireless charging, new-energy vehicles (NEVs) and big data management.

Infineon Technologies AG, a Germany-based semiconductor producer, said the company will strengthen cooperation with Chinese companies in domestic sectors such as NEVs and smart driving this year, the report said.

In previous years, the electrification of the automobile has been largely advanced by the semiconductor sector. More than 90 percent of industrial innovations are expected to be associated with the growth of semiconductor technology in the future, read the report.

With the rapid development of China’s electric vehicle market, the demand for power semiconductor devices is increasing, and expanding production capacity is the first priority, it said.

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