© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao speaks at a news conference in Beijing, China March 2, 2023. REUTERS/Florence Lo/File Photo
BEIJING (Reuters) – China and South Korea have agreed to strengthen dialogue and cooperation on semiconductor industry supply chains, amid broader global concerns over chip supplies, sanctions and national security, China’s commerce minister said.
Wang Wentao met with South Korean Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference in Detroit, which ended on Friday.
They exchanged views on maintaining the stability of the industrial supply chain and strengthening cooperation in bilateral, regional and multilateral fields, according to a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce on Saturday.
Wang also said that China is willing to work with South Korea to deepen trade ties and investment cooperation.
However, a South Korean statement on the same meeting did not mention chips, instead saying the country’s trade minister had asked China to stabilise the supply of key raw materials, and asked for a predictable business environment for South Korean companies in China.
“The South Korean side expressed that communication is needed between working-level officials over all industries”, not just for semiconductors, a source with knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The source declined to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to the media. South Korea is in the crosshairs of a tit-for-tat row between the United States and China over semiconductors.
China’s cyberspace regulator said last week that Micron (NASDAQ:) had failed its network security review and that it would block operators of key infrastructure from buying from the company. The U.S. has pushed for countries to limit China’s access to advanced chips, citing a host of reasons including national security.
About 40% South Korea’s chip exports go to China, according to trade ministry data, while U.S. technology and equipment are necessary for South Korean chipmakers Samsung Electronics (OTC:) and SK Hynix.