The US government was tipped to clear companies in South Korea and Taiwan to progress plans to expand semiconductor operations in China, allowing them to acquire new chipmaking equipment.

During an industry meeting, US Undersecretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Alan Estevez said the government will extend one-year exemptions from US controls barring companies from exporting advanced semiconductors and chipmaking machinery to China, The Wall Street Journal reported.

In October 2022, additional export restrictions were imposed to block China-based companies from acquiring advanced equipment made outside of the US, requiring suppliers to obtain a licence from the Department of Commerce to do so.

Waivers for several chipmakers including Samsung, SK Hynix and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company are due to expire in October, raising questions about their long-term investments in China.

Chipmakers in South Korea were tipped to fill a void left after China ordered domestic operators of critical information infrastructure to stop purchasing Micron Technology’s chips.

But stepping-up chip exports to China would be another sign companies in South Korea are resisting moves by the US to block its access to advanced technology.

The South Korean government has attempted to persuade the US to reconsider further export controls and allow current levels of investment in China.

Industry analysts suggested the extension to the waivers gives chipmakers confidence they can expand operations in China for the foreseeable future without reprisals from the US.