The Chip War Continues as China Bans Micron Memory Chips

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on May 21, 2023

In a significant escalation in the ongoing economic duel between Beijing and Washington, the former issued a directive to its critical information handling firms to cease purchases from Micron Technology. The U.S. company, prominent in the memory chip market, manufactures components integral to phones, computers, and various electronic devices. Many see this move as China’s reaction to the U.S.’s attempts to block its access to advanced chips and become more self-sufficient in the tech industry.

Micron Cybersecurity Review

China launched the cybersecurity review of Micron toward the end of March in what it called a “routine regulatory measure.” The Cyberspace Administration of China reported that the review exposed serious cybersecurity issues with Micron’s products, which it claimed could seriously jeopardize China’s critical information infrastructure supply chain and pose threats to the country’s national security.

Micron publicly pledged its full cooperation with the investigation and maintained that its China operations were unaffected when it began. Now, the company has stated that it is assessing the situation and determining its next steps while remaining in dialogue with Chinese authorities.

China’s administration provided limited details about the specifics of the risks discovered during the review and the process companies undergo during such a review. Nevertheless, experts suggest that among the potential dangers is Washington’s propensity to impose additional sanctions that could sever essential Chinese companies’ access to Micron’s memory chips.

China’s Move to Go Domestic

The ban is the latest move in a spiraling economic dispute between the two global powers, redefining the structure of the massive worldwide microchip industry. Barring Micron from supplying its chips to central firms may trigger a chain reaction through Chinese supply chains, which could lead to Micron’s Chinese consumers shifting to domestically produced or Korean memory chips.

The U.S. has reportedly urged South Korean officials to restrict its chip manufacturers from taking advantage of the potential market gap if Micron were barred from selling to China.

Moreover, since the announcement, China has been engaged in an aggressive campaign to bolster its indigenous chip industry. That includes pouring financial resources into the drive towards self-reliance, with Chinese companies increasingly turning to domestic chips and parts.

What It Could Mean

The ramifications of this decision could be considerable for Micron, given that its Chinese sales last year accounted for about 11% of its global revenue. The exact proportion of these sales that might be impacted by China’s move remains uncertain.

Additionally, the ban is expected to affect other tech companies that rely on Chinese manufacturers for their products, many of which are now looking for alternative suppliers outside of China.

However, while the ban may be a setback for some companies, it also highlights the growing competition between China and the United States in the tech industry. China’s efforts to become more self-sufficient in tech could lead to the development of new technologies and innovations.

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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