The US risks causing “enormous damage” to its tech industry if it continues restrictions on trade with China, according to the chief executive of the chipmaker Nvidia.
Jensen Huang said curbs introduced by the Biden administration, which include restricting the export to China of advanced chips made with US technology, had left the business with “our hands tied behind our back”.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Huang said: “If [China] can’t buy from … the United States, they’ll just build it themselves. So the US has to be careful. China is a very important market for the technology industry.”
Nvidia said last August that US officials had told it to stop exporting two artificial intelligence chips to China, although the company later announced the development of a product that would meet US government restrictions. Nvidia’s chips are a key tool in the development of the large language models that underpin chatbots such as ChatGPT.
In October, the Biden administration published further export controls on the technology, including a measure to cut China off from certain semiconductor chips made anywhere in the world with US tools. Senior US officials said many of the rules sought to prevent foreign firms from selling advanced chips to China or supplying Chinese firms with tools to make their own advanced chips.
Huang urged Washington to be “thoughtful” before imposing further restrictions on trade with China. The FT noted that his comments were made days before China announced a curb on using products made by the US chipmaker Micron in key Chinese infrastructure.
“If we are deprived of the Chinese market, we don’t have a contingency for that. There is no other China, there is only one China,” Huang said. He added that there would be “enormous damage to American companies” if they could not trade with China.
Huang, who co-founded Nvidia in 1993 and is worth an estimated $27bn (£21.8bn), said Chinese companies were starting to build chips to rival his company’s products for AI, gaming and graphics.
He added that shutting down access to China would “cut the Chips Act off at the knee”, in reference to a $52bn White House programme to increase the construction of semiconductor fabrication plants – or “fabs”.
Huang said: “If the American tech industry requires one-third less capacity [owing to the loss of the Chinese market], no one is going to need American fabs, we will be swimming in fabs. If they’re not thoughtful on regulations, they will hurt the tech industry.”
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