China inevitably bans US chip company Micron

China has decided that two can play at the game of sanctioning the companies of its geopolitical rivals on vague national security grounds.

The Cyberspace Administration of China has completed a review of US chip maker Micron and concluded its products pose a threat to China’s national security. As a consequence, operators of key national information infrastructure, which seems to encompass IT as well as telecoms, are banned from using Micron products.

We’re reliant of an auto-translate of the source material, since it doesn’t seem to have been published in English, but numerous reports confirm the nature of the decision. The only surprise is that it took so long, when you consider the US has banned the use of products made by Chinese vendors for years and continues to escalate its use of trade policy to cripple the Chinese tech sector.

Micron specialises in RAM and flash storage, rather than processors, so its products should be easily replaced by equivalents from market leaders Samsung and SK Hynix. In anticipation of this move, however, last month the US applied pressure to the South Korean government to intervene to prevent that process taking place. We may soon find out how effective that pressure was.

Unilateral aggressive action rarely remains that way for long. It was inevitable that China would begin to retaliate and, if it chooses to, there are countless other US companies it could act against in the name of national security. There seems almost no ceiling to how far this game of tit-for-tat could go, with each such action increasingly compelling an immediate equivalent response. Fun times.


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