The Chinese government on Wednesday defended its ban on products from US chip maker Micron Technology in some computer systems after Washington expressed concern, adding to pressures on technology and security.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said the security review of Micron’s products was “conducted in accordance with the law.”
China’s Cyberspace Administration said on Sunday that Micron’s products have unspecified security risks, but gave no details. It prevented them from using computers that handle sensitive information.
This came after Washington, Japan and the Netherlands blocked China’s access to technology to make advanced processor chips for security reasons, at a time when the ruling Communist Party threatens to attack Taiwan and is more assertive towards its other Asian neighbors.
“China’s cyber security review does not target specific countries or regions,” Mao said. “We do not exclude technologies and products from any country.”
Businesses on both sides have been hit hard by supply disruptions and lost sales revenue.
Restrictions imposed by Washington and its allies on access to chips and the tools to make them hamper China’s efforts to develop its own chip industry. US vendors 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 for security reasons “without any factual basis”. It accused Washington of misusing national security as a pretext to “unreasonably crack down on Chinese companies”.
“This is economic coercion and is unacceptable,” Mao said.
US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Monday that the US government is “engaging directly” with Beijing to “explain our view” on the micron ban.
“We have very serious concerns,” Miller said. Referring to the People’s Republic of China, he said: “This measure appears to be inconsistent with the PRC’s assurances that it is open for business and adheres to a transparent regulatory framework.”
Micron will work with the Chinese regulator and assess the impact of the ban, according to its CFO Mark Murphy.
“We’re still not clear about the security concerns that are out there,” Murphy said on a JPMorgan technology sector conference call. “We have not received any complaints from customers about the safety of our products.”
Micron estimates it could lose sales equivalent to 1 percent of total revenue, but the final figure depends on which customers and products will be affected, Murphy said.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Chen Gang pressed his Dutch counterpart for access to chip-making technology that has been blocked on security grounds.
China needs a machine available only from one Dutch company, ASML Holding NV, that uses ultraviolet light to etch microscopic circuits onto next-generation chips. Without it, the ruling party’s efforts to develop chips for smartphones, artificial intelligence, and other advanced applications are stalled.
“China has serious concerns about this,” Chen said. “We must work together to jointly protect the normal trading system between us” and “maintain the stability of global industry and supply chains.”
The Dutch minister, Wopke Hoekstra, said he “shares our national security concerns” and made no mention of his government’s change of heart.