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Uncle Sam vows to Micron-manage China's memory chip ban

Commerce Secretary says US 'won't tolerate' Beijing's 'economic coercion'

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that the Biden administration "won't tolerate" an effective ban on sales of Micron memory chips in China, despite efforts last week to calm the escalating tensions between the two nations.

Raimondo reportedly made the remarks in a news conference following a meeting with trade ministers as part of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework negotiations.

She reiterated the US position that there is a lack of evidence for Beijing's moves against Micron for national security reasons, telling reporters: "We see it as plain and simple economic coercion and we won't tolerate it, nor do we think it will be successful."

The Commerce Secretary claimed the US is already working closely with partner nations to address this latest issue, as well as "all challenges related to China's non-market practices."

These latest combative remarks come after Raimondo met with China's Commerce Minister Wang Wentao last week to discuss issues relating to the US-China commercial relationship, during which she raised the matter of Beijing's actions against Micron.

China's Cyberspace Administration (CAC) ruled just over a week ago that Micron should be considered a threat to the country’s national security, and that under its Network Security Law and other regulations, operators of critical information infrastructure in the country should refrain from purchasing Micron products, which chiefly comprise DRAM and NAND flash memory components.

The move has already sparked calls for Washington to retaliate, with the chair of the US House of Representatives' committee on China saying last week that Chinese memory maker Changxin Memory Technologies (CXMT) should be added to a trade blacklist in return.

It was also reported last week that following the CAC ruling, some China-based server manufacturers such as Inspur and Lenovo had already instructed their suppliers not to send them any memory modules hosting Micron chips.

This is not the first time that Secretary Raimondo has talked about China's economic coercion tactics. In a speech last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of relations between China and the United States, she stated that Beijing had since taken a different path from that of economic openness, that its use of non-market trade and investment practices are now forcing the US "to defend our businesses and workers – and those of our allies and partners," and that Washington aimed to develop innovative solutions to counter China's "economic coercion."

The irony won't be lost on Reg readers in terms of the US complaining about coercion after the sustained pressure Washington has used against many of its partners and allies, Britain included, to stop using technology from Chinese companies such as Huawei in their network infrastructure.

Beijing is also trying its own diplomatic efforts to convince other nations to refrain from the US trade restrictions aimed at China. According to Reuters, Commerce Minister Wang Wentao urged Japan to correct its "wrongdoing" of imposing chip export controls during a meeting with Japanese Trade Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura.

The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced in April that it plans to enact export restrictions to China covering 23 technologies used in the production of semiconductors. These are set to come into effect from July, and follow pressure from Washington against Japan and the Netherlands not to allow the export of equipment that could be used to manufacture advanced chips. ®

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