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US-China tensions

China's SMIC stockpiles chip equipment to counter US restrictions

Efforts to secure crucial machinery and parts began early this year

SMIC is simultaneously attempting to raise its technical capabilities and ween itself off of American technology. (Nikkei montage)

TAIPEI -- China's top chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co. is stocking up on production equipment and crucial replacement parts in a sign that it has been braced for months for the U.S. to tighten export restrictions, Nikkei Asia has learned.

SMIC's purchases from American, European and Japanese suppliers exceed the company's needs for 2020, several industry sources familiar with the matter said. Purchases include machinery for key production processes such as etching, lithography, wafer cleaning, and testing, as well as more than a year's worth of consumable parts, which must be replaced on a regular basis to keep machines running and daily operations on track.

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