Billion-Dollar Chip War Scores Big Win for Biden

billion dollar chip war scores big win for biden.jpg Science

In the global race for technological supremacy, last October marked the starting point of a new competitive era between the U.S. and China. This fierce contest, observed closely by technology policy researcher Kevin Klyman from Harvard University, has revolved around a seemingly small, yet incredibly significant component: semiconductor chips. These minuscule structures, which power everything from computers to computerized cars, are increasingly becoming the oil of the 21st century. The U.S., under the Biden administration, has made strategic moves to limit China’s access to these highly advanced chips and the machinery used to create them.

This semiconductor struggle is not just about economic dominance; it has far-reaching implications for national security and the global balance of power. President Joe Biden set the pace on October 7th with export controls designed to restrict China’s procurement of advanced chips and the computers containing them. These controls targeted not just the chips themselves, but also the tools used to make them, such as Netherlands-based ASML’s state-of-the-art lithography machine. This move has created a significant barrier to China’s development of its own advanced chips and has been bolstered by the support of America’s Dutch and Japanese allies, a development that has surprised experts like Klyman.

Chip Wars: The U.S. and China’s Race for Semiconductor Supremacy

As the race between the U.S. and China for semiconductor supremacy heats up, it is clear that these tiny structures, which power everything from computers to cars, are becoming the oil of the 21st century. The Biden administration has made significant strides in this race, leveraging foreign partnerships and imposing export controls to restrict China’s access to advanced chips and the machinery used to create them.

America’s Allies Join the Fray

Harvard University technology policy researcher, Kevin Klyman, expressed surprise at the level of support the U.S. has received from its Dutch and Japanese allies. Both countries, key players in the tools used to create chips, have joined U.S. export controls wholeheartedly, a move that has stunned experts.

In August, President Biden signed an executive order banning U.S. investments in three critical Chinese technology sectors: semiconductors, quantum tech, and AI. This move is set to accelerate the divestment from China by private equity and venture capital funds.

The Importance of Semiconductor Chips

Chris Miller, the author of the book "Chip War" and winner of the Financial Times’ business book of the year for 2022, believes the Biden administration has scored a coup with its export control measures. The measures have effectively challenged China’s goal of building its own cutting-edge chip industry.

Semiconductor chips are not just big business; they are the lifeblood of modern technology. They are integral to training AI systems, which have the potential to shift entire economies and the global balance of power. As such, the U.S. is particularly concerned about chips used in yet-to-be-invented weapons.

The Limitations of Export Controls

While export controls have proven effective in the short term, experts believe their efficacy will diminish in the long run as China finds ways to circumvent regulations. Some suggest that the U.S. should focus on bolstering domestic education to train a broad pool of AI engineering talent.

However, export controls can make foreign scientists feel less welcome, potentially hampering the cultivation of talent. They also spur China to develop its own self-sustaining semiconductor ecosystem, effectively shifting the tech war from exports to education.

Taking a Different Approach

Rather than trying to limit access to tech abroad, some experts believe the U.S. should focus on funding education domestically as a policy tool. Cultivating a genius capable of breakthroughs could increase the capability of the U.S. technological system significantly.

The U.S. is already a leader in AI scientists, but there is room for improvement. Immigration reform plus education could be the key to sustaining the U.S.’s position as the world’s largest economy amidst the rise of AI and interconnectivity.


This chip war has highlighted the critical role of semiconductor chips in modern technology and national security. While the U.S. has so far managed to maintain its lead, the race is far from over.

It’s clear that investment in education and talent cultivation will be crucial in maintaining the U.S.’s position in the face of growing competition. As the world enters what some are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, powered by AI and interconnectivity, it’s more important than ever to foster a robust, homegrown pool of AI engineering talent.

The U.S. and China’s race for semiconductor supremacy is not simply about chips; it’s about the future of global economic power. As this race continues, the strategies employed and their impacts will shape the world as we know it.

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