U.S. weighs blacklisting top Chinese chipmaker

The U.S. could be tightening the screws on China’s top chipmaker. A Defense Department official said Friday the Trump Administration is considering whether to blacklist Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation.

Adding SMIC to the entity list that includes more than 275 China-based firms would force its American suppliers to seek shipping licenses that are hard to obtain. That list includes telecoms equipment makers Huawei and ZTE.

The Trump Administration has often used that list to hit key Chinese industries over sanction violations.

SMIC already faces new restrictions from the Commerce Department. Those regulations require it and other chip suppliers to Huawei to seek U.S. licenses before producing chips for the telecoms giant if they rely on American chipmaking technology.

Industry sources say placing SMIC on the list could impact U.S. companies. Among them: chip equipment suppliers Lam Research, KLA, and Applied Materials.

SMIC and the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.