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The Department of Justice has today charged two companies – one from China and one from Taiwan – as well as three Taiwanese. They would have stolen trade secrets from an American semiconductor development and manufacturing company.

The American government claims that the Chinese government is violating international trade agreements by actions of this kind. International trade has been good for China, but it must stop cheating, says Jeff Sessions, the US Minister of Justice at a press conference on the subject.

Export prohibition

The charges are related to an export ban announced by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Tuesday. US companies were no longer allowed to sell components or materials to Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Company, a Chinese state-owned semiconductor development company.

Today, the company has also been indicted, as well as one of the partner companies of Fujian Jinhua, United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC). In addition, three individuals have been summoned to appear in court, including a former general manager and chairman of Micron’s Taiwanese department. This individual served as a manager at both UMC and Fujian Jinhua.

Carefully orchestrated

According to the US Department of Justice, Chen Zhengkun is responsible for the data theft. He joined the Taiwanese branch of Micron in 2015 and then joined UMC. He then entered into a cooperation agreement between UMC and Fujian Jinhua, whereby UMC supplied certain DRAM technology to Fujian Jinhua. This technique was then mass-produced in a new factory of the Chinese company. Later, Chen, the president of Fujian Jinhua and head of the development of the DRAM plant, was put in charge – a project worth $5.7 billion.

While Chen worked at UMC, he would have convinced two former employees of Micron – He Jianting and Wang Yungming – to move to UMC. They would have taken 900 secret Micron documents, including the DRAM design, with them. Micron had already sued both UMC and Fujian Jinhua about that.

Shortly afterwards, remarkably enough, the Chinese government opened an investigation into price agreements between Micron, Samsung and SK Hynix. At the same time, Fujian Jinhua and UMC sued Micron in China for patent infringement. According to the Americans, it is not the intention to fight the Chinese, but, above all, to ensure that the country keeps to the agreements it has made.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.