Samsung boss visits China to reportedly strengthen government ties

Samsung's de factor leader also visited the company's plant based in Xi'an.

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Samsung Electronics vice chairman JY Lee, centre, inspected the company's semiconductor plant at Xi'an, China on Monday.

Image: Samsung

Samsung's de facto leader met with senior Chinese government officials of Shaanxi Province to discuss collaboration opportunities, according to Chinese media.

Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong met with Communist Party Secretary of Shaanxi Province Hu Heping, Governor of Shaanxi Liu Guozhong, as well as acting Mayor of Xi'an Li Mingyuan on late Monday, People's Daily reported on Tuesday.

Samsung confirmed there was a meeting but declined to elaborate further.

Hu reportedly thanked Lee and Samsung for providing medical equipment during the start of COVID-19 outbreak for local residents. The secretary also promised support to foreign companies such as Samsung for help to normalise operations in the aftermath of the pandemic, the report said.

Samsung previously donated 30 million yuan, in cash and goods, including a million face masks and 10,000 pieces of protective covering to assist China during the pandemic.     

Hu also said the two hoped to strengthen collaborative ties in the areas of flash memory chips, logic chips, power batteries, and bio-medicine.

The Samsung boss, in turn, said the two should find more areas of collaboration to "positively contribute to a new era", Chinese media said.

Separately on Monday, Samsung said Lee left for Xi'an on Sunday and inspected the company's semiconductor plant there. The plant at Xi'an produces NAND flash memory.

The plant's first factory began operations in 2014. Samsung then invested $7 billion into building a second factory there in 2017 and last year, it said it would put an additional $8 billion into expanding the second factory.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak has slowed, China has allowed work to continue in certain factories, such as those owned by Samsung. 

It has also exempted certain Samsung employees from its mandatory 14-day quarantine for foreigners that was imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In April, some 200 Samsung engineers were allowed entry into China and were sent to work at the Xi'an semiconductor plant.

Lee's visit to China comes amid increased tension between US and China. The US Department of Commerce on Friday announced plans to "restrict Huawei's ability to use" US technology and software to design and manufacture its semiconductors abroad. It said this would stem the Chinese company's "efforts to undermine US export controls".

It is unclear how this will affect Samsung's semiconductor business, if at all, which produces both memory and logic chips that are purchased by Chinese vendors.

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