In April, Beijing initiated a national security evaluation of Micron and its offerings. It cited “security risks arising from latent product issues” found in some of Micron’s silicon sold to Chinese clients. On Sunday, Chinese authorities declared that Micron had failed the evaluation.
According to the Cyberspace Administration of China, “The review uncovered significant potential network security concerns associated with Micron’s products, presenting a major security risk to our nation’s critical information infrastructure supply chain and impacting national security.”
Consequently, the Network Security Review Office has concluded that Micron’s products do not pass the network security review. “Based on the Network Security Law and other pertinent regulations, operators of critical information infrastructure in China are instructed to discontinue the procurement of Micron products.”
The CAC did not specify the risks
The notice only mentions the purchase ban. This would indicate that the flaws with Micron’s equipment may present a “major security risk” but not a risk demanding an immediate rip-and-replace operation.
Dylan Patel, a semiconductor industry analyst, characterized the ban as performative in a tweet. “A rather effective method of retaliation since it instills great fear, but in reality, has limited significance due to memory being a commodity and supply chains adjusting within a few quarters.”
Beijing has various motives for this retaliatory move. Recent restrictions on the export of US technology are deliberately designed to undermine China’s economy and government by limiting the flow of advanced semiconductors to the Middle Kingdom.
Retaliation for Western sanctions on Chinese businesses
China recently reminded the world of allegations suggesting that US security agencies actively exploit zero-day vulnerabilities in American-made tech products.
Patel also made the valid point that China can easily find alternatives to Micron’s products. Memory is readily available, and global production is on the rise.
China’s action comes at a curious point. It’s making the move just a day after the G7 nations pledged to enhance collective assessment, preparedness, deterrence, and response to economic coercion. The G7 aims to safeguard global supply chains from undue influence, espionage, illicit information leakage, and digital sabotage.
Also read: Micron to invest up to $100 billion in New York memory chip plant