In a crucial push for a change of direction in its strained relations with the United States, China voiced its desire on Monday for the U.S. to cultivate a correct understanding of its global counterpart and to join them in a mutual effort to steer their bilateral relations back on course.
Beijing’s call comes at a time of escalating tension, triggered by a move to restrict U.S. firm Micron Technology Inc’s sales of memory chips to vital domestic sectors.
This decision has not only intensified the trade conflict with Washington but has also stimulated the stock market, boosting shares of companies that could potentially benefit from the move.
Trade contention stirs market response
China’s cyber-regulation watchdog announced late on Sunday that Micron, the largest U.S. memory chip manufacturer, had not passed its network security assessment and would be prohibited from selling to key infrastructure operators.
Despite the regulator’s reluctance to disclose details of the risks identified or the products affected by the embargo, the market response was immediate.
Micron’s shares fell by 5.5% in Monday’s pre-market trading. Other U.S. chipmakers with significant business dealings in China, including Qualcomm, Intel, and Broadcom, experienced nearly a 1% downturn.
In stark contrast, the share prices of Micron’s rivals in China and South Korea, projected to benefit as local firms seek alternative memory product providers, enjoyed an uplift.
The U.S. Commerce Department openly criticized Beijing’s decision, stating, “We firmly oppose restrictions that have no basis in fact. This action, along with recent raids and targeting of other American firms, is inconsistent with (China’s) assertions that it is opening its markets and committed to a transparent regulatory framework.”
Tensions between the U.S. and China have been on the rise following recent actions involving American firms such as Mintz Group and Bain.
This latest development with Micron marks the first instance of a U.S. chipmaker being targeted by Beijing, following a series of Washington’s export controls aimed at preventing American components and chipmaking tools from being used to enhance China’s military capabilities.
China’s domestic market reaction
China’s announcement of the Micron review positively impacted shares of local chip-related companies on Monday. Domestic firms are expected to capitalize on the move. Companies such as Gigadevice Semiconductors, Ingenic Semiconductor, and Shenzhen Kaifa technology saw their shares rise between 3% and 8% in early trading.
Micron’s major competitors, South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, also enjoyed an upturn, although these gains were tempered as the overall impact on Micron is anticipated to be limited.
Despite Micron’s setback, market analyst Jefferies believes that, “Since Micron’s DRAM and NAND products are much less in servers, we believe most of its revenue in China is not generated from telcos and the government. Therefore, the ultimate impact on Micron will be quite limited.”
China’s latest regulatory intervention is part of a larger narrative, which includes its ongoing efforts to enhance self-sufficiency in chip manufacturing.
Simultaneously, it underscores Beijing’s call for the U.S. to understand its stance better, meet halfway, and collaborate to rectify strained ties. This plea coincides with President Joe Biden’s suggestion that a transformation in U.S.-China relations may be imminent.
As the world’s largest semiconductor buyer, China continues to demonstrate its drive to diminish its dependency on foreign-made chips.
Nevertheless, amid the clamor of international trade conflicts and domestic market reactions, the underlying message remains clear: China is eager for the U.S. to join them in a concerted effort to restore mutual understanding and bring their troubled relationship back on an even keel.