China launches security probe into US chipmaker Micron

AFP , Monday 3 Apr 2023

Chinese authorities have begun an investigation into leading US memory chipmaker Micron Technology, a decision Beijing's foreign ministry said Monday was intended to "safeguard national security".

US chipmaker Micron. Micron Technology s Facebook page


The probe escalates an already fierce battle between Beijing and Washington for supremacy in the field of semiconductors as broader bilateral relations continue to deteriorate.

The decision was announced late Friday by China's top cybersecurity regulator, which said in an online notice it would review products sold by Micron over "national security concerns".

Foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning told a regular news briefing on Monday the investigation was a normal measure taken to "conduct network security reviews of internet products that affect or may affect national security".

"Both Chinese companies and foreign companies operating in China must abide by Chinese laws and regulations and must not endanger China's national security," she said.

The Boise, Idaho-based Micron said in a statement it was "cooperating fully" with Chinese authorities, Bloomberg reported.

US authorities have in recent years sought to prevent the country's advanced chip technology from being exported to China, imposing targeted controls on the ability of domestic industry leaders to sell their products overseas.

They have also sought to persuade key allies to follow suit.

The Netherlands and Japan -- both leading manufacturers of specialised semiconductor technology equipment -- have recently announced new restrictions on exporting certain products to China.

Beijing has slammed the decisions as "US bullying tactics", vowing that such controls will only strengthen its resolve to achieve self-reliance in the sector -- a longstanding goal of Beijing, which has been investing vast sums in domestic chip technology firms.

Earlier on Sunaday,Chinese Foreign Minister told his Japanese counterpart that Tokyo's new export controls on semiconductor equipment will only further drive Beijing's quest "to become self-reliant".

Yoshimasa Hayashi's visit to China is the first by a Japanese foreign minister since December 2019, ending a gap of over three years during which bilateral ties have sharply deteriorated.

The ministers' Beijing meeting comes just days after Japan unveiled planned export controls on 23 items used to make semiconductors, following US pressure for countries to restrict China's access to the technology.

"The United States used bullying tactics to brutally suppress the Japanese semiconductor industry, and now it is repeating its old tricks against China," Qin told his counterpart, according to a readout of the meeting.

He also accused Japan of being Washington's "minion".

"The blockade will only further stimulate China's determination to become self-reliant," he said.

Japan's controls were preceded by similar restrictions imposed last month by the Netherlands, where authorities cited "international and national security".

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