One year ago, a Hikvision-focused website noted that YMTC chips were being used in Hikvision products. This may not seem like a big deal on the surface – one Chinese company working with another company. It is a big deal. Why? Hikvision, an Entity Listed Chinese surveillance technology giant that’s complicit in some of the worst crimes against humanity of the 21st century, contains chips from YMTC, a “bellwether semiconductor firm” that’s on the path to the Entity List itself.
Adding fuel to bipartisan calls to finally put YMTC on the Entity List is a new report from teardown specialist Tech Insights. EE News Europe reports, “‘Tear-down’ specialist Tech Insights has found an example of an YMTC (Xtacking 3.0) 232-layer 1TBit triple-level cell memory in a 2Tbyte solid-state drive from HikVision/HikSemi.”
It’s bad enough that YMTC is supplying a conduit of egregious human rights violations in Hikvision. But it’s downright terrifying for Tech Insights to conclude, “At their current rate of innovation, YMTC is poised to be the uncontested global NAND flash technology leader before 2030.”
That must not be allowed to happen. As China Tech Threat detailed in a report with the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) earlier this year, letting YMTC be the world leader in flash memory will force other – potentially American – suppliers to leave the market, thus forcing the world to depend increasingly on a firm with deep ties to the Chinese military and surveillance apparatus. Thousands of American jobs will be lost, and our national security will be jeopardized.
As massive congressional pressure bears down on YMTC during the NDAA debate, now is the time for the Commerce Department to follow through on its actions from October 7, and move YMTC from the Unverified List to the Entity List. Inaction – and believing China will meaningfully cooperate in end-use checks – will obviate the advantage the U.S. has tried to reclaim by passing the CHIPS Act earlier this year. As EE News Europe noted, “the latest find from Tech Insights shows YMTC achieving technical firsts despite Covid-19 lockdowns, geo-political challenges and sanctions.” Punishing action from the Commerce Department is needed to erode YMTC’s looming advantage.