Last week Senators John Cornyn, Marco Rubio, Charles Schumer, and Mark Warner sent a letter to Director of Intelligence Avril Hanes warning about the national security threat of Chinese memory chip maker YMTC and its impending partnership with Apple.
Seizing on the growing awareness that Apple is preparing to put YMTC chips in the iPhone 14, the Senators noted that, “Such a decision would introduce significant privacy and security vulnerabilities to the global digital supply chain that Apple helps shape given YMTC’s extensive, but often opaque, ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and concerning PRC-backed entities.”
This letter is especially timely in light of recent congressional efforts to support the American semiconductor industry through the CHIPS Act. Spending billions of dollars on domestic chip production without placing YMTC on the Entity List will undercut the effectiveness of the CHIPS Act legislation. As the letter states:
A partnership between Apple and YMTC would endanger this critical sector and risk nullifying efforts to support it, jeopardizing the health of chipmakers in the U.S. and allied countries and advancing Beijing’s goal of controlling the global semiconductor market. Buoyed by a major contract with a leading global equipment vendor such as Apple, YMTC’s success would threaten the 24,000 American jobs that support memory chip production.
The letter – which comes on the heels of another recent bipartisan letter urging the Commerce Department to place YMTC on the Entity List – hopefully will spur the intelligence community to “a comprehensive review and analysis of YMTC and the threat that a suppler partnership arrangement between it and Apple would pose to U.S. national and economic security.” With the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) apparently suffering a deficit of intelligence resources, the intelligence community’s review of YMTC would be a much-needed and timely boost for exposing YMTC for the danger that it is.
Two weeks ago, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated, “Given the foundational nature of certain technologies, such as advanced logic and memory chips, we must maintain as large of a lead as possible.” Levying export controls targeting YMTC, including putting it on the Entity List, is a common sense solution to sustaining American leadership in the memory chip sector.