A growing number of Chinese semiconductor design companies are tapping Malaysian firms to assemble a portion of their high-end chips to hedge against the risk of the United States widening the scope of its sanctions on China's semiconductor industry, sources said.

The companies are asking Malaysian chip-packaging firms to assemble a type of chip known as graphics processing units (GPUs), according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.

The requests only encompass assembly — which does not contravene any U.S. restrictions — and not fabrication of the chip wafers, they said. Some contracts have already been agreed, two of the people added.