US trade curb threat over Micron an 'economic coercion,' analysts say
Global Times

Two days after China's cyberspace regulator announced that US memory chip giant Micron Technology failed to pass cybersecurity review, some US politicians threatened to put trade curbs on a Chinese memory chip maker.

A smartphone with a displayed Micron logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken March 6, 2023. (Photo: China Daily)

Analysts said that the threat has laid bare Washington's double standards, in which it looks to retaliate against a Chinese firm without grounds for a legitimate action over Micron, while China's review is a normal enforcement action in accordance with domestic laws and international practice.

According to a Reuters report, US House China Committee Chair Mike Gallagher called for retaliatory action, saying that the US Commerce Department should immediately add ChangXin Memory Technologies (CXMT) to the Entity List and ensure that no US technology goes to CXMT or other Chinese memory chip makers.

CXMT is China's largest manufacturer of dynamic random access memory. The company didn't comment as of press time.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also reportedly told reporters on Tuesday (US time) that the Chinese announcement on Micron was "not based on fact," Reuters noted. Officials and experts criticized the US for judging others by its own values, as it is not others but its own habit to impose groundless sanctions on China and other nations.

China's measures on Micron were based on a thorough security investigation, whereas the US threat - adding to a series of crackdowns against Chinese companies like Huawei and TikTok under the guise of "national security" - is nothing more than crackdown against Chinese tech industry..

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a press conference on Wednesday that the US, using national security as an excuse and without any factual basis, has included more than 1,200 Chinese enterprises and individuals on various blacklists and restrictions.

"This is economic coercion. This is what is unacceptable," Mao said.

Another Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin cited recent media reports as saying that the US' foreign sanctions increased by 933 percent from 2000 to 2021. The Trump administration alone implemented more than 3,900 sanctions in four years.

"One difference between China's moves and those of the US is that the US has put a large number of Chinese companies on its trade blacklist without giving convincing evidence. But China is conducting investigations into certain US companies because of their unlawful acts," Xiang Ligang, a veteran telecom analyst, told the Global Times.

Mao said that China's cybersecurity reviews don't target any specific country or region, nor does China exclude any country's technologies or products.

Experts also said that China's review of Micron is a normal enforcement action in accordance with laws, and the US is using double standards by saying that China is targeting the company.

"China's review is conducted based on its Cybersecurity Law and is in line with international practice," Lu Dingliang, a partner lawyer at the Beijing-based Jingsh Law Firm, told the Global Times.

China's cybersecurity regulator on Sunday demanded domestic critical information infrastructure operators to stop purchasing Micron products in accordance with the country's Cybersecurity Law and other regulations, after the US company was found to have severe cybersecurity problems that could pose significant security risks to China's critical information infrastructure supply chain.

Lu especially mentioned that the US has also launched cybersecurity reviews into Chinese firms like Huawei and SANY Group based on its own national security laws.

"China's cybersecurity review of Micron is a reflection of national sovereignty. It also shows China's efforts to safeguard national security in the field of critical information infrastructure," Lu said.

Some experts noted that a number of overseas companies' heads had visited Chinese mainland factories to arrange business layouts, including US technology companies like Apple.

This proves that China has never restricted companies of any origin to come to China for development as long as they abide by Chinese laws.

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the US is "engaging with the broader business community as well as with allies and partners" to address the Micron's situation in the Chinese market, Reuters noted.

As to US moves to rope in allies to target China's memory chip industry, experts said that domestic companies can make memory chips to fill any gap left by overseas companies' withdrawal. If overseas companies abandon China's market under US pressure, they will give up profits to their competitors.

Chen Jia, a macroeconomic analyst, told the Global Times that if Micron withdraws from China, it will be an opportunity for South Korean giants like Samsung.

"If South Korean companies don't move to fill the market gap left by Micron, they will suffer market and financial losses. It will also be a declaration to the world that South Korean companies are accomplices to the US in its harsh crackdown on Chinese chip industries," Chen said.