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Chinese chipmaker to triple output as decoupling accelerates

Wuhan-based Yangtze Memory at heart of 'Made in China 2025'

A researcher plants a semiconductor on an interface board under a microscope at Tsinghua Unigroup research center in Beijing. China is keen to curb its dependence on American semiconductors.   © Reuters

BEIJING -- Yangtze Memory Technologies has broken ground on a new factory toward tripling its output capacity to 300,000 wafer equivalents a month, as part of China's push to curb its dependence on American semiconductors.

The major Chinese chipmaker held a ceremony to kick off construction in Wuhan, where its headquarters are located. Yin Yong, the party secretary of Hubei Province and a close aide to Chinese President Xi Jinping, attended, as did Hubei Province Gov. Wang Xiaodong.

Yangtze Memory "became a memory factory that leads the world through our first phase of development," said Zhao Weiguo, who is chairman of both the chipmaker and its parent, Tsinghua Unigroup.

"We will continue contributing to the development of the semiconductor industry," Zhao said.

Yangtze Memory began mass-producing memory chips in 2019. Its output capacity following its first phase of development stood at 100,000 wafers a month, Chinese news outlets report.

The company is planning $24 billion worth of investments in its first and second phases of development combined, which will likely include new production equipment from overseas. Industry insiders are watching closely to see whether imports of the equipment and their installation go smoothly. 

The Xi administration launched its "Made in China 2025" initiative in 2015 to foster high-tech industries in the country. Yangtze Memory is one of three homegrown companies set up to boost China's domestic supply of semiconductors, and is known for producing NAND flash memory. The company announced in April that it succeeded in developing a chip with cutting-edge 128-layer technology.

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