U.S. senators demand evaluation of Apple’s plans to use Yangtze memory chips

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A bipartisan U.S. senator on Wednesday (September 21) asked the U.S. National Intelligence Agency to lead an assessment of the security threat posed by Apple Inc. reportedly plans to use memory chips provided by Chinese chip company Yangtze Memory Technologies in its new flagship iPhone 14.

Bipartisan senators, led by Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio, wrote in a joint letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, according to the Washington Post. “We would like to express our high concern about the possibility that Apple will purchase 3D NAND memory chips from the People’s Republic of China state-owned manufacturer Yangtze Memory Technologies Co., Ltd. in the near future.”

The letter urges Haynes to investigate the consequences for the U.S. economy and national security of Apple’s purchase of YMTC chips, including an investigation into how China supports YMTC as part of China’s plan to develop a domestic semiconductor industry, YMTC is helping other Chinese companies aspects, investigating the Yangtze River storage and Chinese military links. The letter also said that if Apple continues to push the plan, it will introduce significant privacy and security gaps in the global digital supply chain that Apple has built.

The letter was co-signed by Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner and Republican Senator John Cornyn. The letter asked Haynes to respond by Oct. 1.

Earlier this month, the Financial Times reported that Apple plans to use memory chips provided by YMTC in the iPhone 14. U.S. lawmakers warned that Apple was playing with fire and would face unprecedented scrutiny from the U.S. Congress.

Apple countered the report, saying that none of Apple’s products use YMTC’s chips, only acknowledging that the company is evaluating whether to use YMTC’s chips in some phones sold within China, but not in iPhones sold outside of China use these chips. Apple also emphasizes that all user data stored on these chips is fully encrypted.

Still, U.S. lawmakers remain concerned that the phones, which use YMTC memory chips, could end up in global markets, a Senate aide said.

The Biden administration last year described YMTC as the “national team” of China’s chip industry. According to the White House, YMTC has received about $24 billion in subsidies from the Chinese government, which are critical to YMTC’s rapid growth.

The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that Schumer and other lawmakers also accused YMTC of violating the U.S. “foreign direct product rule” by supplying Nand memory chips to Huawei’s flagship foldable phone, the Mate Xs 2, and asked the Commerce Department to put YMTC Included in the Entity List.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao

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