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Japanese tech leader warns Beijing will weather US chip sanctions

Japanese tech executives have warned that the latest U.S. chip export curbs are unlikely to curb China’s advances in artificial intelligence and supercomputers, casting doubt on the long-term effectiveness of the sanctions.

A warning from Sony’s CTO and NEC’s CEO warns that Washington will move to the Netherlands and Japan, two big players in the global chip-making industry, for China to make chips. It was issued while trying to persuade a trilateral agreement to impose further restrictions on obtaining tools.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Sony’s technology chief Hiroaki Kitano said he expected the US-led sanctions to “temporarily affect” China’s ability to procure semiconductors, but said AI It added that it was “perfectly possible” for China’s global presence in China to continue to grow.

“The power of AI [development] In China, it is important to have access to very large datasets.I don’t know what the long term effects will be [the US export curbs] You can be there,” Kitano said.

At a recent media session, NEC CEO Takayuki Morita also expressed doubts about the long-term effectiveness of Washington’s measures.

“Personally, the US-China technology dispute over chips may slow down China’s technological progress, but I don’t think the overall trend will change,” Morita said. “China’s competitive edge in technology cannot be ignored and will be one of its strengths. [to reckon with] in the long run. “

The sanctions that Washington rolled out in October are the toughest technological measures President Joe Biden has introduced to counter China’s advances, but so far, Chinese telecom-equipment maker Huawei has cut short supply chains. The broader impact appears to be more limited than when cut off from the government, corporations, a Japanese government official said. The move has hit Sony and other companies that supply parts to Huawei hard.

Analysts say the latest move is likely to overwhelm China’s efforts to expand its domestic chip industry, which is part of the Communist Party’s Made in China 2025 roadmap to become a world leader in AI and quantum computing. will accelerate it.

Kitano said Sony is unlikely to be affected by US export restrictions because its major AI research centers are located in the US and Europe. Sony has significantly reduced its exposure to Chinese suppliers under the influence of Huawei, according to people close to the company.

With its focus on facial recognition and software, NEC also expects it to be immune to sanctions. According to Morita, its presence in the Chinese market is also limited due to privacy concerns.

Sony’s Kitano said one of the big questions is whether China can maintain its existing standards of research and development when it comes to the quality of its engineers.

U.S. employees, as well as support personnel at U.S. chip equipment makers and other suppliers including Applied Materials and Lam Research, were among Chinese semiconductor companies such as Yangtze Memory Technology in the immediate aftermath of Washington’s imposition of export restrictions. left the company. We support China’s semiconductor industry.

“It’s hard to know what will happen in terms of whether China can sustain its advanced research and development in the current environment,” Kitano said.

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