Beijing Naura Microelectronics Technology Co., China’s biggest semiconductor production equipment maker, this week asked its U.S. engineers to stop working on research and development projects. The company made the move in compliance with recent restrictions imposed by the U.S. government on the Chinese high-tech sector, reports South China Morning Post.
People from overseas usually take senior management and engineering roles at Chinese companies and apply their experience to build competitive businesses. Restricting U.S. citizens, U.S. residents, and green card holders from working at Chinese companies could devastate these companies. It remains to be seen how the decision will affect Naura in the short term.
In a bid to speed up the development of its own semiconductor industry, China — through its numerous government-controlled investment funds as well as semiconductor companies — has hired talent from American, South Korean, and Taiwanese companies. This helped build world-class companies like Biren Technologies (a privately owned entity, as far as we know), SMIC, and YMTC relatively quickly. Beijing Naura Microelectronics Technology Co., whose revenue surpassed the $2 billion mark in the last 12 months (according to SemiAnalysis), is another example.
The latest package of U.S. sanctions against China’s semiconductor industry restricts the supply of certain high-end supercomputer chips or chip production equipment to Chinese entities without an export license from the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). It also prohibits U.S. citizens from working in the Chinese semiconductor production sector. The official rule on U.S. citizens working for Chinese semiconductor companies restricts ‘the ability of U.S. persons to support the development, or production, of ICs at certain PRC-located semiconductor fabrication facilities without a license.’
While Naura Microelectronics does not produce chips, it makes chip production equipment, which is considered as ‘supporting production’ of chips in China and falls under the new rules.