back to article Biden cuts off China's Yangtze, 30 others from US chipmaking gear

Yangtze Memory Technologies Company (YMTC) is one of more than two dozen Chinese companies and institutions targeted in the Biden Administration’s latest round of export restrictions on semiconductor tech. In a bulletin filed [PDF] early on Friday, the US Commerce Department added 31 Chinese firms to its “Unverified List,” …

  1. DS999 Silver badge

    Not sure why Rubio has a problem here

    Apple is using YMTC chips only in iPhones sold in China, which this new rule won't impact.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not sure why Rubio has a problem here

      Apple is obliged to use YTMC chips in iPhones sold in China, and now is obliged to NOT to use YTMC chips in iPhones sold in the USA.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: Not sure why Rubio has a problem here

        Apple isn't obliged to use YMTC chips for phones sold in China, but they may have got a very good price on them since YMTC has more capacity than customers.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not sure why Rubio has a problem here

          "Apple isn't obliged to use YMTC chips" <= "I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse"

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not sure why Rubio has a problem here

      Supporting authoritarian regimes is a bad idea, we don't want them to get too powerful. If YMTC becomes a dominant supplier of flash memory, due to their very good technology, then this will further expand China's leverage over the West. Look at the Russian gas situation in Europe? We don't want a repeat of that with Chinese semiconductors now.

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: Not sure why Rubio has a problem here

        Of course, we don't live in an authoritarian society. Our government doesn't tell us who we can and can't trade with, where we can and can't go and where we can and cannot invest, does it? (Well, the UK government might not but here in the Good Old USofA there's a whole host of restrictions. It seeps into everyday life so you get questions like one asked recently of a radio amateur whether it was legal to talk to someone in Cuba.)

        Then there's the whole right to choose thing. (Don't go there....)

        OK, we can change things because we hold elections. But wait! They hold elections too, although theirs are obviously rigged, unlike ours which are gerrymandered to the max, electorates swept clean of undesirables and deviants and generally sanitized for the good of society.

        Sorry to waste the bandwidth but this constant misuse of the term 'authoritarian' to single out 'countries we don't like' is getting really old.

      2. hoola Silver badge

        Re: Not sure why Rubio has a problem here

        So the situation with Intel for example is okay because they are NOT a Chinese company?

        These things invariably come back to bite and the Chinese are very good at looking long-term.

  2. vtcodger Silver badge

    Curious

    I don't know enough about the semiconductor industry to tell. But I'm curious. Is this actually a problem for China's manufacturing/research/military? Or is it a bit of occidental face-saving -- barricading the stable doors about two decades after the horses have wandered off?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Curious

      You're looking at desperate attempts for US tech industry to become relevant again. Look at it as apolitical play to prevent competition.

      The whole mess surrounding Huawei also had zero to do with security, but with the fact that they were so far ahead with 5G that US companies didn't have a hope in hell catching up, and about the only thing you can throw at China that doesn't immediately says "unfair competitive measures" is waving the national security flag, naturally casually ignoring the espionage functionality inherent in all the privacy violations by, well, almost all social media as well as the data falling out of all MIcrosoft products.

      Add to that that the US has fingers in enough pots to foist this on other countries as well and it's going to be interesting when China rips the legs from underneath the dollar in a few years time, unless the US starts acting now and decouples it from fossil fuel sales which I'm not even sure they can.

      It's a bit of a shame as it stifles proper innovation on both sides of the fence, and can have unintended consequences. The reason Russians are so good at super efficient and deep coding is exactly because the US deprived them of the wasteful tech that we have that is needed to run a copy of Windows at usable speeds. It forced them to be more clever with what they had. Why is Japan about a decade ahead in IPv6 deployment? Well, the US didn't give them many IPv4 addresses so they had to.

      Restrictions tend to not work so well for those imposing them.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Curious

        It may well be a way of preventing competition, however stopping China, an authoritarian state, from becoming dominant in tech is still a valid reason for such sanctions. If they get too powerful, they will be able to influence the entire industry. They already tried to push a new more easily surveilled Internet protocol to the ITU, one with traceability built in. We already have a big enough problem with Internet surveillance and certainly don't want any more.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Curious

          As an aside, I learnt today that Volvo has been a Chinese company since 2010...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Curious

          Ah, you mean they could potentially do the same as the US has been doing for decades?

          You might want to have a look at what Microsoft got up to over the decades. You need to dig a bit because they've been hard at work to sanitise their past but there's plenty to find, and that's just in IT.

          If there's one thing the US is exceptional at, it is the whole "Holier than thou" hypocrisy. That doesn't mean I'm defending China's record, but using that as an argument is questionable.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Sad state of "journalism"

        If you can even call it that.

        Reproducing press releases from the PR departments of corporates and western governments + quoting posts in twitter.com is not really my idea of serious or useful journalism.

        The pathetically inconsistent "human rights" / "national security" excuses, when viewed in the light of the US treatment of states such as Saudi Arabia or Israel needs, at the very least, to be pointed out in any article dealing with this subject.

    2. FreeAsABird

      Re: Curious

      Yep, it's time to call a spade a spade. The key part of the phrase "they may be used to undermine US foreign policy or national security" is the "US foreign policy" part, with the subtext:

      "we will do anything within our means to ensure that no country can overtake the US economically so we can continue to strongarm the rest of the world to get our own way, most likely at your expense".

      The US is deathly afraid of being overtaken. All the other stuff is rationalisation and window dressing.

  3. Lordrobot

    “If you wait by the river long enough, the bodies of your enemies will float by.”

    Sun Tzu

    Marco should produce legislation to ban Apple Iphones from sale in Murica... playing with fire... always great to see dumb politicians destroying markets that US businesses took decades to grow. But but but National Security... the dead albatross of the dying giant.

    1. GraXXoR

      Either that or you doze off, fall in and Drown.

  4. Bartholomew
    Coat

    A or B ?

    Two simple outcomes are possible:

    China stops trying to produce their own microchips (And stop trying to make their own machines that produce the machines that make microchips.).

    China produces their own microchips.

    Keep the following population estimates in mind (for October 2022) when thinking about which outcome is most likely:

    World ~7.98 Billion

    India ~1.63 Billion (~20% of the global population)

    China ~1.45 Billion (~18% of the global population)

    European Union ~0.45 Billion ( ~6% of the global population)

    United States of America ~0.34 Billion (~4% of the global population)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A or B ?

      It's a game of probabilities. Assuming that only your own country has the smart people is, well, not very smart. Add to that the size of the population and the likelihood of someone intelligent coming up with new ideas is high and that is less dependent on the structure of society, more on education.

      BTW, that's why turning education into a money game (and allowing rich people to buy the dumb ones their way through prestiges universities) was a bad idea. It does not really hold down the poor kids that have brains, but it definitely deprives any nation of the smarts it needs to compete - which then leads to these shenanigans.

      Stupid, but that's the world we live in.

      1. fajensen
        Pint

        Re: A or B ?

        It's a game of probabilities. Assuming that only your own country has the smart people is, well, not very smart.

        Everybody does it, though, so it kind of averages out in the end.

        I think the problem right now, are the stupid old men trying to take us all back to some Glorios Past (that never existed). I think China made a big mistake with Xi Jinping, because - he is an old fart, he hasn't got the time, he's rushing things and he's rushing in the wrong direction for stupid old-man reasons.

        The trajectory China was on before Xi Jinping started his grumpy old fart antics about land, power and control would have made China the leading world power in about 30 years, pretty much unnoticed and uncontested. All people hate being sold to, but, they do love buying - and the idea that Free Trade would blot out the authoritarians, we loved buying that idea, and all that other stuff made only by China!

    2. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

      Re: A or B ?

      Patently false dichotomy. China is already producing its own microchips - and so are many other countries producing their own. That will continue indefinitely.

      Apple sales by region

      Region Q1 2021 Q2 2021

      Americas $46.31 $34.31

      Europe $27.31 $22.26

      Greater China $21.31 $17.72

      Japan $8.28 $7.74

      NYT "How China Has Added to Its Influence Over the iPhone" Sept 6, 2022

      has encouraged staff in Asia to lead meetings that colleagues in California once led, these people said. The staff also assumed responsibility for the selection of some Asian suppliers of future iPhone parts. The company is now increasingly tapping China to supply high-wage workers to do these jobs, these people said. This year, Apple has posted 50 percent more jobs in China than it did during all of 2020,

      NYT "Censorship, Surveillance and Profits: A Hard Bargain for Apple in China" June 17, 2021

      As Mr. Guthrie was delivering his warnings, Apple set about keeping the Chinese government happy. Part of that effort was new research and development centers in China. But those R&D centers complicated Apple’s image as a California company. At a summit for its new Chinese engineers and designers, Apple showed a video that ended with a phrase that Apple had been inscribing on the backs of iPhones for years: “Designed by Apple in California." The Chinese employees were angered, according to Mr. Guthrie and another person in the room. If the products were designed in California, they shouted, then what were they doing in China? “The statement was deeply offensive to them,” said Mr. Guthrie, who left Apple in 2019 to return to his home in Michigan. “They were just furious.” The next iPhone didn’t include the phrase.

      Rubio is simply attempting to use the same leverage tactics that the CCP uses - except that Rubio, and US politicians in general, do more talking and less action.

      1. Bartholomew

        Re: A or B ?

        > Patently false dichotomy. China is already producing its own microchips - and so are many other countries producing their own.

        I could produce chips in my garden shed, for legal reasons I would never call them micro because the scale would definitely be over one millionth of a meter. What I mean is bleeding edge chips, not any old microchips produced by a 10+ year old fab.

        1. Bartholomew

          Re: A or B ?

          I'm guessing all the down votes are from people who have never worked with nasty chemicals to develop black and white photos or etch printed circuit boards. The step from there to making a microchip is not a particularly giant leap, it is just the chemicals involved are a lot more more deadly (e.g. hydrogen fluoride which will dissolve silicon dioxide, is extremely difficult to handle safely) and there are just a lot more steps involved.

  5. tentimes

    Less chips going to Russia for it's war effort

    All good. Keep the ban hammer swinging and make it for all of China or anyone that exports to China or a company that will try and get tech for the Russians.

  6. Yes Me Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Sad

    Sad to see an empire at the end of its days trying to defeat the more powerful new empire, rather than figuring out its place in the new world order.

    It's the same fallacy as that behind "Make America great again." It's depressing that Democrats as well as Republicans imagine that banning high tech sales will have any effect on China except giving them even stronger reasons to develop their own high tech. This is not the way to improve respect of human rights in China.

    1. Zolko Silver badge

      Re: Sad

      Very true. The same can be said about the "petro-dollar " and the "dollar-as-world-currency ", where the US has actively banned one of the biggest oil-porducer from the dollar system, thus forcing that producer and its clients to create a new international monetary system which will, by design, weaken the very petro-dollar system.

      Or confiscating the assets of a national bank, signaling every other nation that their money is not safe in US hands and they could be next. So they had better flee the US monetary system and look for alternatives.

      It looks as if the Biden regime was willingly shooting itself into the foot : are they really that stupid or is there a greater hidden plan somewhere ?

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