Type to search

US Lawmakers’ Curbs Call on China’s Open Source Chip Tech Use

American firms like Qualcomm and Alphabet’s Google have embraced RISC-V – but so have many Chinese companies, sparking worries at Capitol Hill

China chip designer Unisoc is seeking to raise 10 billion yuan in private funding, sources say.
RISC-V is overseen by a Swiss-based nonprofit foundation.


US lawmakers have again called on the Biden administration to act on China’s rising use of open source RISC-V chip design technology, with concern rising in some quarters in Washington that it represents a national security threat.

RISC-V, pronounced “risk five,” is a free open-source technology that competes with costly proprietary technology from British semiconductor and software design company Arm Holdings, and Intel Corp. It can be used as a key part of anything from a smartphone chip to advanced processors for artificial intelligence.

US firms such as Qualcomm and Alphabet’s Google have embraced RISC-V – but so too have many Chinese companies.

Reuters last month reported that at least four influential US lawmakers view Chinese use of the technology as a potential national security threat because RISC-V is not captured by the sweeping export controls the US has imposed on sending chip technology to China.


Also on AF: Suspicion And Mistrust Continuing to Shadow TikTok


Now, a broader group of 18 lawmakers that includes five Democrats is asking the Biden administration how it plans to prevent China “from achieving dominance in … RISC-V technology and leveraging that dominance at the expense of US national and economic security,” according to a letter the group sent to Raimondo and seen by Reuters.

The lawmakers include the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat from a select committee on China in the House of Representatives as well as Democratic lawmakers from New Jersey, Florida, Michigan and Indiana. 

They also asked the Biden administration about how it might apply an existing executive order to require US companies to get an export licence before working with Chinese companies on RISC-V technology.

“While the benefits of open-source collaboration on RISC-V promise to be significant for advancement and development of the US semiconductor industry, it can only be realised when contributors are working with the sole aim of improving the technology, and not aiding the technological goals and geopolitical interests of” China, the group of lawmakers wrote in the letter.

A Commerce Department spokesperson said Raimondo had received the letter and would respond through the appropriate channels.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

China Exploiting Open Source RISC-V Chip Tech, Warn Senators

US Expands Ban on Top AI Chips, Curbs to Hit Many Countries

US May Ban AI Chips to Chinese Firms Located Overseas

US Moves to Block China Benefitting From $52bn Chips Funds



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


AF China Bond