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U.S. chip alliance against China tests South Korea's loyalty

'Chip 4' initiative threatens Seoul's quest for diplomatic middle ground

SK Hynix acquired Intel's Dalian plant in 2021.(Photo courtesy of SK Hynix)

SEOUL/WASHINGTON -- After years of walking a thin line between the U.S. and China, South Korea's government and chipmakers face pressure to pick a side in the growing technological rivalry between its military ally and its largest trade partner.

The U.S. is preparing to hold a preliminary meeting for the proposed Chip 4 initiative, designed to stabilize semiconductor supply chains. Besides the U.S., the envisioned partnership includes Japan, a leader in semiconductor-manufacturing materials; Taiwan, the top producer of cutting-edge chips; and South Korea, whose output capacity is second only to Taiwan's.

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