British MPs Led By Former Conservative Party Leader Iain Smith Urge Government To Block Acquisition Of Country's Largest Chip Plant By Chinese Company

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Iain Duncan Smith, a member of parliament and the former leader of the Conservative Party has said that the United Kingdom government should have moved to block the purchase of Newport Wafer Fab, the country's largest computer chip plant by Nexperia, a Chinese-owned company.

Duncan Smith urged the government to use the newly-enacted National Security and Investment Bill to block the Newport Wafer Fab acquisition.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the deal will be subject to a review by national security adviser.

Iain Duncan Smith, a member of parliament and the former leader of the Conservative Party has said that the United Kingdom government should have moved to block the purchase of Newport Wafer Fab, the country's largest computer chip plant by Nexperia, a Chinese-owned company.

China is “busy stealing technology, getting other people’s intellectual property rights, and buying up companies,” Duncan Smith said.

Newport Wafer Fab, which makes wafers of semiconductors at its plant in Duffryn, Newport, employs 450 people and is the UK's largest chip plant. It makes the wafers that electronic circuits are printed onto

Though headquartered in Netherlands, Nexperia is a owned by Chinese company Wingtech Technologies. It already has a site in Manchester.

Duncan Smith told the U.K. Parliament on Thursday that China has identified semiconductor technology as a key area it wants to dominate globally.

"I think the government is in an unholy mess over this," he said.

"I wonder in the course of this failure to make a decision did they look at what China thinks of semiconductors?

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He criticised the suggestion "that a semiconductor is not strategic, when the technology in there will be used in almost everything we do, everything we produce that is electronic".

“China is the busiest exporter in the world and is busy buying up semiconductor technology everywhere it can find it.” he added.

Duncan Smith urged the government to use the newly-enacted National Security and Investment Bill to block the Newport Wafer Fab acquisition.

Labour MP Ruth Jones, who represents Newport West where the factory is based, said: "I want to be assured that the prime minister and his government have scrutinised this deal and that they are confident that there's no breach... in the national security of the UK.

"The jobs, yes they're important and we want to make sure that we continue to have highly skilled, well paid jobs here in Newport, but also we need to safeguard the national interest."

U.K. Business Minister Amanda Solloway reiterated that the government does not plan to intervene at this stage in the Newport Wafer Fab acquisition as it’s not currently a national security concern. However Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the deal will be subject to a review by national security adviser Stephen Lovegrove.

Johnson told Westminster's Liaison Committee: "We have to judge whether the stuff that they are making is of real intellectual property value and interest to China, whether there are real security implications."

Many European chip firms — including Britain’s Imagination Technologies, France’s Linxens and the Netherland’s Ampleon — have been acquired by state-backed Chinese firms in recent years.

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