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China’s chip production surges by 40% in Q1

According to a report by the South China Morning Post on April 18th, encouraged by official support and continuous industry investment in expansion, China’s total chip production in the first quarter of 2024 reportedly surged by 40% to reach 98.1 billion units. This further highlights China’s shift towards ramping up mature processes in semiconductor development, especially amidst the export restrictions. Additionally, chip production capacity is rapidly expanding.

Recent data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics shows that chip production grew by 28.4% in March alone, reaching a record high of 36.2 billion units.

Reportedly, the substantial growth in chip production in China is partly attributed to strong demand from downstream industries such as new energy vehicles. Data shows that in the full year of 2023, China’s production of new energy vehicles reached 9.587 million units, a year-on-year increase of 35.8%. In the first quarter of this year, the production of new energy vehicles increased by 29.2% to 2.08 million units. Additionally, in the first quarter of this year, China’s smartphone production increased by 16.7%.

In recent years, with semiconductor plants emerging across various regions, China’s chip production capacity has been continuously expanding. The chip production volume in the first three months of this year is nearly double that of the same period in 2019.

The International Semiconductor Industry Association (SEMI) released a global fab forecast report at the end of last year, indicating that China’s share of global semiconductor capacity will continue to expand, attributed to local government funding injections and other incentive measures. Chinese chip manufacturers may add 18 new fabs in 2024, with wafer annual capacity rising from 7.6 million units in 2023 to 8.6 million units this year.

A report from the American think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), also noted that due to U.S. restrictions on advanced chip technology and equipment to China, new investment projects in China’s semiconductor production are focusing on mature process chips.

Data from TrendForce indicates that China’s fabs hits 77, mainly targeting on the mature process.

Researchers cited in the report suggest that the unintended consequence of U.S. export controls on advanced chip technology to China may result in a wave of state-supported investments, leading to overproduction and potentially allowing China to dominate global traditional chip production.

The same reports also indicate that despite China’s strong push for chip self-sufficiency, the country still heavily relies on chip imports. Data from the General Administration of Customs of China shows that in the first quarter of this year, chip imports to China increased by 12.7% year-on-year, reaching 121.5 billion units, while chip exports grew modestly by 3% to 62.4 billion units. Chips remained China’s largest imported commodity in 2023, surpassing crude oil.

However, it’s important to note that a significant portion of the chips imported into China are designed by Chinese chip design firms but manufactured by overseas foundries. Trend Force

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