The US Commerce Department on Monday said Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit will be barred from buying US components and software. The company should soon be completing a DRAM factory that could be the largest such factory in the world.
In a statement, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said, in any case of a foreign company acting against USA "national security interests", his Department "will take strong action to protect" them.
In a 2017 lawsuit, Micron said Jinhua partnered with Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corporation to steal USA trade secrets as a way to advance the Chinese company's DRAM chip production. Negotiations have reportedly stalled ahead of a planned meeting between United States and Chinese Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 summit in Argentina. That could force U.S. military systems to rely on Chinese-made technology.
But the restriction of exports to Fujian Jinhua actually relates to a much older problem: Accusations of Chinese businesses stealing American trade secrets to shift the balance sheets (and balance of power) in their favor. The company will face additional license requirements to obtain US technology.
Now, the Trump administration is taking action "in light of the likely USA -origin technology" that "threatens the long term economic viability of US suppliers of these essential components of US military systems".
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Earlier this year, the Trump administration put an export ban on ZTE, one of China's biggest tech companies.
The action against Fujian Jinhua is likely to ignite new tensions between Beijing and Washington since the company is at the heart of the "Made in China 2025" program to develop new high-technology industries. Jinhua sued the US company the following month in a Chinese court and obtained an order blocking sales of some Micron products.
The United States and China have been engaged in a trade war, with Trump imposing tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods and threatening to hit all imports from China with levies.
A Commerce Department spokesman said the agency would review any appeal by Fujian Jinhua. Negotiations have reportedly stalled ahead of a planned meeting between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the upcoming G20 summit in Argentina.