There is growing concern in Seoul about Washington’s involvement in the global semiconductor industry, as expressed by South Korean lawmaker Yang Hyang-ja. Yang, a former chip engineer and Samsung executive warned that restricting China’s access to advanced chips could negatively impact relations with Asian allies. Yang is the head of a governing party committee focused on South Korea’s semiconductor competitiveness.
Yang told the Financial Times that the United States should stop using its power as a weapon and instead think about the principles shared by all people. She worried that if sanctions were imposed on China, it could lead to other countries banding together to oppose the United States. South Korean officials are concerned that supply chains and earnings could be disrupted as a result of the Biden administration’s legislation providing incentives to non-Chinese chipmakers for greater semiconductor production in the US, as well as export limits on crucial chip manufacturing tools to China.
However, Yang argued that the more the US sanctions China, the more China will push for technical advancement, creating a crisis for South Korea due to China’s talent and resources. Some analysts have argued that US actions have helped South Korean chipmakers by hindering their Chinese counterparts. She encouraged the United States to change course and stop interfering with the international supply chain.
Even if US tech war measures have not yet affected South Korea’s semiconductor industry, Yang conceded that they may if sanctions were imposed on China. She did, however, point out that state-backed Chinese rivals like YMTC pose the greatest long-term danger to South Korea’s semiconductor industry.
Yang mentioned the importance of nurturing South Korea’s engineering expertise and providing better care for technicians when discussing the country’s own problems. She argued that South Korea’s technological advancements could be the key to solving the country’s geopolitical issues.
The K-Chips Act, which offers tax breaks to businesses that engage in South Korean chip production, was also largely due to Yang’s efforts. The future of the country’s semiconductor industry is uncertain, thus, Yang emphasized the need to develop the country’s technological talent pool.
Finally, the complexity of US actions in the semiconductor industry and its effects on Asian allies, especially South Korea, are illuminated through Yang’s perspective. South Korea’s chances of maintaining its place in the global semiconductor scene are mixed, given China’s rapid development and the emergence of state-backed rivals.