China has banned Chinese companies working on key infrastructure projects from buying products from US semiconductor maker Micron, in a major escalation of an ongoing battle between the world’s two largest economies over access to crucial technology.
China’s Cyberspace Administration announced the decision on Sunday, saying the US chipmaker failed to pass a cybersecurity review.
“The review found that Micron’s products pose relatively serious cybersecurity risks, which pose significant security risks to China’s critical information infrastructure supply chain and would affect national security,” the regulator said in a statement.
As a result, operators involved in national critical information infrastructure projects should stop buying products from Micron, he said.
The decision came seven weeks after the Chinese regulator launched a cybersecurity review of Micron’s products, in apparent retaliation for sanctions imposed by Washington and its allies on China’s chip sector.
Micron Technology (MU) is one of the largest memory chip manufacturers in the United States. It derives more than 10% of its turnover from mainland China.
Micron told Reuters he had received the regulator’s notice and was “looking forward to continuing to engage in discussions with the Chinese authorities.” He did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment.
Since October 2022, Washington has imposed sweeping restrictions on exports of advanced chips and chipmaking equipment to China, in an effort to cut off China’s access to critical technologies for military purposes.
In March, Japan and the Netherlands, two key US allies, also announced restrictions on overseas sales of chipmaking technology to countries like China. China has strongly criticized the restrictions, calling them a “discriminatory lockdown” directed against the country.
Chips are at the center of Beijing’s bid to become a tech superpower. China has its own chipmakers, but they mainly supply low to mid-range processors used in home appliances and electric vehicles.
The semiconductor battle is part of a growing rift between the United States and China. In recent years, relations between the two have hit their lowest level in decades.
Tensions have escalated this year after a suspected Chinese spy balloon was shot down by US fighter jets in February and Beijing has continued to deepen its ties with Russia despite its continued invasion of Ukraine.
However, US President Joe Biden said on Sunday that he expects relations between the two countries to improve soon.
“I think you’re going to see it start to thaw out pretty soon,” Biden at a press conference following the Group of Seven summit in Japan.
He said he had agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping in November to keep communications open, but that all changed after a “dumb balloon that was carrying two freight cars containing equipment from espionage” was shot down.
“We are not looking to dissociate ourselves from China,” he said. “We are looking to reduce risk and diversify our relationship with China.”