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US to probe claims that top Chinese chipmaker violated ban on Huawei


The Biden administration is wanting into claims that Yangtze Memory Technologies Co, a Chinese semiconductor maker, has provided Huawei with chips, in a possible violation of US export controls.

The White House and US Department of Commerce have obtained copies of a report that claimed Huawei, the Chinese telecoms tools provider that Washington believes helps Beijing to conduct espionage, was utilizing YMTC reminiscence chips in a brand new smartphone, in keeping with three individuals conversant in the case.

One US official stated the commerce division’s Bureau of Industry and Security had obtained a “credible” report by TechInsights, a agency that analyses the parts inside client electronics.

“While the department does not comment on the potential existence of investigations, BIS vigorously investigates allegations of violations of the export administration regulations,” stated the official, who added that any enforcement motion ensuing from an investigation would solely be made public after that probe was completed.

State-owned YMTC is China’s largest reminiscence chipmaker. As with different main Chinese chipmakers, it’s responding to authorities stress to step up efforts to wean itself off US tools however nonetheless stays depending on American expertise for some processes.

The report stated Huawei was utilizing YMTC chips in its Enjoy 20e telephone. The chips have been made in August 2021, one yr after then-president Donald Trump utilized the overseas direct product rule, which bans US and overseas teams from exporting US expertise to Huawei.

“YMTC appears to be violating the FDPR,” Michael McCaul, the highest Republican on the US House Foreign Affairs committee, stated in regards to the report, which was obtained by the Financial Times.

Huawei and YMTC didn’t remark.

The cost is the most recent allegation in opposition to Chinese teams that Washington believes threaten US safety both due to their impression on American corporations or over considerations that they’re serving to the Chinese navy underneath Beijing’s “civil-military fusion” programme, which requires them to share expertise with the People’s Liberation Army.

The White House final yr stated YMTC was turning into China’s “national champion memory chip producer”. Some Republicans, together with McCaul, need YMTC to be added to the commerce division’s “entity list”, which might management US teams’ gross sales to the corporate.

McCaul stated the revelation underscored the necessity for motion.

“We see what is going [on] here but we are not willing to pull the trigger and be more aggressive by putting them on the entity list,” he stated. “There are lists of tools exclusively made by US companies that YMTC needs. We could cut them off and nobody could supply them.”

Marco Rubio, a Republican senator, lately voiced concern about reviews that Apple was contemplating shopping for chips from YMTC, which he stated had “extensive” PLA hyperlinks. “It is unacceptable that sales of the next generation of iPhones would end up strengthening the Chinese military,” Rubio wrote to Tim Cook, Apple’s chief government.

Apple didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

Although China has corporations that supply machines for specialised processes in semiconductor manufacturing, akin to etching and copper plating, a small variety of American enterprises, akin to Applied Materials, Lam Research and KLA nonetheless have a stranglehold over important market niches, together with in China.

Roslyn Layton, co-founder of a bunch known as China Tech Threat, stated one purpose the US had not beforehand positioned YMTC on the “entity list” was due to profitable lobbying from US teams.

“YMTC’s partners have been brilliant at working the angles of the US government,” stated Layton. “These companies don’t want it on the entity list because they want to sell there.”

To decide whether or not YMTC was violating FDPR, the commerce division must conclude it had “knowledge” that its chips have been destined for Huawei. This might be sophisticated for commodity chips that may be offered off the shelf.

A second US official stated YMTC appeared to have breached the rule however any determination about punishing it could most likely be a “political call”.

“There seems to be a great deal more momentum to lessen trade tensions with Beijing than going after them so my sense is that absent political pressure from Congress, they will be looking into this for a very long time,” stated the official.

Follow Demetri Sevastopulo on Twitter





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