The Washington Post

Senators seek review of possible use of Chinese chips in Apple’s iphone

Officials raise ‘extreme concern’ to director of national intelligen­ce

- BY ELLEN NAKASHIMA

Senators from both parties on Wednesday asked the nation’s top intelligen­ce official to lead a review of the security threat posed by Apple’s reported plan to use memory chips from a major Chinese chipmaker for its new iphone 14.

“We write to convey our extreme concern about the possibilit­y that Apple Inc. will soon procure 3D NAND memory chips from the People’s Republic of China state-owned manufactur­er Yangtze Memory Technologi­es Co.,” the lawmakers, led by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-fla.), Senate Intelligen­ce Committee vice chairman, wrote in a letter to Director of National Intelligen­ce Avril Haines.

The letter urged Haines to consider the economic and national security consequenc­es posed by the reported arrangemen­t, including how the Chinese Communist Party supports YMTC as part of its plan to grow China’s domestic semiconduc­tor industry.

Apple declined to comment on the lawmakers’ letter.

Apple’s plan to use YMTC memory chips was reported this month in the Korean press and by the Financial Times.

Apple said in an earlier statement that YMTC chips are not used in any of its products, and that it was “evaluating” whether to use YMTC chips for some iphones sold in China. It also said all user data stored on such chips is “fully encrypted.”

Apple told the Financial Times and repeated to The Washington Post on Wednesday that it was not planning to use the chips in iphones sold outside China.

The lawmakers fear that the phones will still find their way into the global market, said a Senate aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the record.

The senators also want Haines to look at what they said was YMTC’S role in aiding other Chinese firms, including the telecom equipment manufactur­er Huawei, which is under strict U.S. export controls. And they want her to examine YMTC’S alleged links to the Chinese military.

If Apple proceeds, it “would introduce significan­t privacy and security vulnerabil­ities to the global digital supply chain that Apple helps shape,” said the letter, which was also signed by Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senate Intelligen­ce Committee Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-VA.) and committee member John Cornyn (RTex.).

Last year, the Biden administra­tion described YMTC as China’s “national champion memory chip producer.” According to the White House, YMTC has received about $24 billion in subsidies from Chinese government sources, which, the White House said, was essential to the firm’s rapid developmen­t.

The four senators and other colleagues urged Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in July to place YMTC on the department’s export blacklist on grounds that it was supplying companies under U.S. sanctions.

The lawmakers asked Haines to reply by Oct. 1.

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