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Beijing bans Chinese companies from using Micron chips in critical infrastructure

The move comes after the US tightened restrictions on semiconductor exports to the country.

Stephen Nellis / reuters

China’s cybersecurity regulator has banned Chinese firms from buying chips from US memory manufacturer Micron Technology. Per Reuters, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said Sunday it found that the company’s products pose “significant security risks” to critical Chinese information infrastructure, including state-owned banks and telecom operators. The ban comes after China announced a review of Micron imports in late March in a move that was seen at the time as retaliation for sanctions Washington has imposed on Chinese chipmakers in recent years.

Idaho-based Micron is the largest memory manufacturer in the US. The Chinese market accounts for about 10 percent of the firm’s annual revenue, though the majority of companies importing Micron products into China are manufacturers making devices for sale in other parts of the world. According to The Wall Street Journal, the CAC’s ban does not apply to non-Chinese firms in China. “We are evaluating the conclusion and assessing our next steps,” Micron told the outlet. “We look forward to continuing to engage in discussions with Chinese authorities.” The CAC did not say what Micron products would be affected by the ban, nor did it share details on what security concerns it had with the company's chips.

The ban is the latest development in an escalating feud over semiconductor technology between the US and China. In recent months, the Biden administration has moved to restrict its rival's access to advanced chipmaking equipment. In January, US, Dutch and Japanese officials agreed to tighten export controls on lithography machines from ASL, Nikon and Tokyo Electron. As The Journal notes, China has been trying to find ways to hit back at the US. Micron was an easy target given that most Chinese companies can turn to suppliers like South Korea’s SK Hynix to make up for any shortfall left by a ban.