May 22 (UPI) — China has banned domestic companies working in the critical information security sector from buying products manufactured by U.S. firm Micron Technology, saying they pose security risks.
The announcement was made Sunday in a statement from the Cyberspace Administration of China following a network security review of Micron products that was launched in late March, seemingly in retaliation against moves taken by the United States to limit the Asian nation’s access to U.S. chip technology.
The regulator said its review found “serious potential network security issues” with the Mircon products, which it called “a major security risk” to China’s key information infrastructure supply chain and national security.
“Operators of critical information infrastructure in China should stop purchasing Micron products,” the statement said without specifying what risk these products pose to China’s security.
The announcement is expected to fray already fraught U.S.-China relations as competition between the two continues to ratchet up.
Amid the conflict, the United States has taken actions to limit China’s involvement in the manufacturing of not only its critical infrastructure but that of its allies while also restricting Beijing’s access to U.S.-made technology.
The Biden administration has targeted China’s ability to both purchase and manufacture high-end computer chips while pursuing a policy to boost domestic manufacturing of semiconductors to improve its competition against China and wean its dependence on it for the increasingly necessary component.
U.S. officials have accused China of working to develop supercomputing capabilities to become a world leader in artificial intelligence by the end of this decade.
In October when the Biden administration enacted chip export controls on China, Thea Rozman Kendler, assistant secretary of Commerce for export, said in a statement that Beijing is using that technology to power its military modernization and to monitor, track and surveil its own citizens.
“Our actions will protect U.S. national security and foreign policy interests while also sending a clear message that U.S. technological leadership is about values as well as innovation,” she said.
Allies, such as Japan and the Netherlands, have joined in the effort, attracting the condemnation of China.
The announcement also follows the United States and its G7 allies issuing a statement affirming their joint position to push back against China’s “economic coercion” and to protect “certain advanced technologies that could be used to threaten our national security.”
The statement said they seek not to separate themselves from the Asian nation but that they recognize “the need to respond to concerns and to stand up for our core values.”
U.S. President Joe Biden explained to reporters during a Sunday press conference that “that means taking steps to diversity our supply chains so we’re not dependent on any one country for necessary product.”
“It means protecting a narrow set of advanced technologies critical for our national security,” he said.
A Micron spokesperson told BBC in a statement that they have received notice from the Chinese regulator concerning the results of its review and were “assessing our next steps.”
“We look forward to continuing to engage in discussions with Chinese authorities,” the spokesperson said.