The US and China are in an intense battle for technology supremacy, and semiconductors are at the center of the war. Greg Slater (‘90), VP and Senior Director of Global Regulatory Affairs for Intel, posed this question to BYU Law students: “If you were advising a tech company, how would you help them navigate US-China relations?” Doing this, Slater says, involves predicting regulatory trends by identifying the decisionmakers and analyzing their motivations. A whirlwind review of China’s priorities over the past five decades highlighted their increasing emphasis on national security and self-reliance. Slater pointed out that both priorities are achieved by becoming a technology powerhouse.
China is not only a manufacturing juggernaut focused on exports; it also represents an enormous consumer market for US companies. In recent years, however, China has favored “secure and controllable” technology products from indigenous companies over imports. These Chinese technology companies are heavily subsidized, and they have flourished. Supply chain disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic brought US dependence on Chinese suppliers—especially semiconductor suppliers—into sharp focus. Legislation aimed at strengthening domestic semiconductor manufacturing, research, and design, coupled with recent restrictions on exports of advanced, AI-capable computing chips to China seek to reverse US reliance on China and guard US military capabilities. “US tech restrictions are here to stay,” says Slater.