Bipartisan Group of Senators Pushes Commerce Department to Restrict China’s YMTC

As Chinese military-backed chipmaker YMTC continues to depend on American technology to gain market share in the semiconductor sector, seven U.S. Senators have sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo characterizing the company as an “immediate threat” and urging it to be placed on the Commerce Department’s Entity List – meaning American firms would be banned from selling key technologies to YMTC.

While senators including Bill Hagerty, Marco Rubio, and Mark Warner have long raised the dangers of YMTC and called for placement on the Entity List, this letter represents the most definitive and bipartisan statement from Congress to date on the issue, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senators John Cornyn, James Risch, and Mike Crapo joining Hagerty, Rubio, and Warner as signatories on the letter.

Over the past several months, an increasing number of news stories have highlighted YMTC’s dangers. The company is apparently already violating U.S. export controls by doing business with Huawei. An impending deal with Apple – the subject of a 2022 China Tech Threat-Coalition for a Prosperous America report – will allow the company to put a flash memory chip inside the iPhone. Americans’ privacy and security will be compromised if this deal goes through.

If YMTC becomes the chipmaking powerhouse the Chinese government intends for it to be, at least one major memory chip supplier will exit the global marketplace, making the world more reliant on China for its chip needs. That outcome is counterproductive to the goal of the recently-passed CHIPS+ Act. The bipartisan call for an entity listing is a powerful complementary move.

“By failing to add YMTC to the Entity List, the U.S. Department of Commerce is allowing the PRC to exploit our technological sector and supply sanctioned parties in China.”

Reuters, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer & U.S. Senators letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo

In July, Bureau of Industry and Security Under Secretary Alan Estevez testified to the Senate Banking Committee that a review of export control policies is ongoing inside the interagency: “I’m conducting a complete review over those policies within BIS right now, and then there’s also an interagency process looking at this. There is a red line on what we would allow the Chinese to access.”

According to Reuters, the letter helpfully urged the Commerce Department to bring policy deliberations to a rapid conclusion.  

Ultimately, the senators write, “By failing to add YMTC to the Entity List, the U.S. Department of Commerce is allowing the PRC to exploit our technological sector and supply sanctioned parties in China.”

We couldn’t have said it better. The Commerce Department must act swiftly to put YMTC on the Entity List.