China defends US chipmaker Micron ban, accuses Washington of ‘economic coercion’

BEIJING (AP) — China’s government on Wednesday defended its ban on products from U.S. memory chip maker Micron Technology Inc. in some computer systems after Washington raised concerns, adding to technology and security tensions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Mao Ning said the safety inspection of Micron’s products was “conducted in accordance with the law.”

China’s Cyberspace Administration said on Sunday that Micron’s products had unspecified security risks, but did not provide details. It prohibited them from accessing computers processing sensitive information.

It comes after Washington, Japan and the Netherlands blocked China’s access to technology to make advanced processor chips, citing security concerns at a time when the ruling Communist Party has threatened to attack Taiwan and is tougher on its other Asian neighbors. :

“China’s cyber security review is not targeting specific countries or regions,” Mao said. “We do not exclude the technology and products of any country.”

Companies on both sides have suffered from supply disruptions and lost sales revenue.

Restrictions on access to chips and tools by Washington and its allies are hampering China’s efforts to develop its own chip industry. US vendors have lost billions of dollars in potential sales to Chinese smartphone makers, chip foundries and other customers.

Mao complained that the United States had imposed restrictions on more than 1,200 Chinese companies on security grounds “without any factual basis.” He accused Washington of misusing national security as an excuse to “unreasonably oppress Chinese companies.”

“This is economic coercion and unacceptable,” Mao said.

The US government is “directly working” with Beijing to “clarify our position” on the Micron ban, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Monday.

“We have very serious concerns,” Miller said. Referring to the People’s Republic of China, he said: “This action appears inconsistent with the PRC’s claims that it is open for business and committed to a transparent regulatory framework.”

Micron will cooperate with the Chinese regulator and is assessing the impact of the ban, according to its chief financial officer Mark Murphy.

“We remain unclear what the security concerns are,” Murphy said at a JP Morgan technology industry conference. “We have had no complaints from customers about the safety of our products.”

Micron estimates it could lose sales equivalent to a single-digit percentage of total revenue, but the final figure depends on which customers and products are affected, Murphy said.

Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Tuesday pressed his Dutch counterpart for access to chip-making technology that has been blocked for security reasons.

China needs a machine available only from one Dutch company, ASML Holding NV, which uses ultraviolet light to etch microscopic circuits on next-generation chips. Without it, the ruling party’s efforts to develop chips for smartphones, artificial intelligence and other advanced applications stall.

“China has serious concerns about this,” Qin said. “We must work together to jointly protect the normal trade order between us” and “keep global industrial and supply chains stable.”

Dutch Minister Wopke Hoekstra said he “shared our national security concerns” and did not indicate that his government’s position had changed.


Micron Technology Inc.

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