U.S. Lawmaker Pushes for Retaliation Against China’s Ban on Micron

The U.S. Commerce Department should put trade restrictions on Chinese memory chipmaker Changxin Memory Technologies (CXMT) in retaliation for Beijing’s ban on U.S.-based Micron earlier this week, Representative Gallagher, the chair of the U.S. House of Representatives’ committee on China, said on Tuesday. China’s cyberspace regulator has put restrictions on sales of some chips made by Micron, marking the latest in a series of trade disputes between Washington and Beijing. The move by China sparked tough language from key lawmakers and the White House.

The White House said the Commerce Department was “engaged directly” with China over Micron, a maker of memory chips that are essential for products from cell phones to data center servers.

Senate Majority Leader Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, also said Tuesday he is talking to the broader business community and allies about the issue.

The U.S. “must make clear to the PRC (People’s Republic of China) that it will not tolerate economic coercion against its companies or its allies,” Gallagher said in a statement. “The Commerce Department should immediately add CXMT to the entity list and ensure no U.S. technology, regardless of specifications, goes to CXMT, YMTC, or other PRC firms operating in this industry.”

CXMT is China’s leading maker of DRAM memory chips and the domestic competitor most likely to benefit if Micron is barred from China’s massive chip market.

Yangtze Memory Technologies Corp (YMTC) is a Chinese chipmaker put on the entity list in December 2022.

Gallagher also said the Commerce Department must ensure “no U.S.-export licenses granted to foreign semiconductor memory firms operating in (China) are used to backfill Micron, and our South Korean allies, who have experienced exactly this kind of CCP (Chinese Communist Party) economic coercion firsthand in recent years, should likewise act to prevent backfilling,”

South Korea’s Samsung and SK Hynix, which both operate memory chip factories in China, and other non-Chinese firms were exempted from U.S. export controls on chip manufacturing gear imposed in October, but those exemptions from the U.S. rules can expire or be revoked.

Gallagher’s demand comes weeks after U.S. chip manufacturing equipment manufacturers say they received a clarification from U.S. export control authorities that will allow them to ship more tools to China than initially anticipated.

Lam Research, the leading maker of tools for manufacturing memory chips, said the clarification could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional sales from China.

The clarification from the Commerce Department concerned how memory chip features are measured for the purposes of applying export control rules.

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