China downplays Micron ban as individual case, not broader US firm targeting
China is attempting to mitigate the fallout from its recent decision to partially ban sales of US chipmaker Micron‘s products in the country on national security grounds. The ban has been challenged by Washington, which views it as a deliberate targeting of US businesses in response to export controls imposed on China.
However, Chinese authorities, including the foreign ministry and the commerce ministry, have downplayed the issue, describing it as an isolated case and not part of a broader campaign against US firms.
Commerce Minister Wang Wentao reassured American companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Honeywell at a meeting in Shanghai that China would continue to welcome US business investment. Meanwhile, the ruling that Micron products pose a threat to national security and China’s key information infrastructure operators have been met with relative silence from industry operators. Few Chinese firms have publicly pledged compliance with the ruling or denounced Micron products.
Micron’s consumer product brand, Crucial, has not received any notice to remove products from its online store, and its products remain available for purchase and delivery. The company is currently in communication with Chinese authorities regarding the decision. Micron’s CFO, Mark Murphy, has estimated that the impact of the ban will be in the low to high single-digit percentage of the company’s total revenue.
The US Commerce Department has criticised the ruling and recent raids on US consultancy firms in China as a violation of Beijing’s commitment to an open market economy and a transparent regulatory framework. However, Beijing has denied this accusation. An editorial in the Chinese Communist Party-controlled Global Times newspaper defended the Micron ruling as fact-based and the result of a seven-week investigation by the General Administration of Customs and a cybersecurity review by China’s cybersecurity watchdog, the Cybersecurity Administration of China, reports Channel News Asia.
Shanghai-based consultancy ICWise has described China’s punishment of Micron as “relatively restrained,” suggesting that the country can afford to sanction the company as its products can easily be substituted in the Chinese market. Zhang Chao, a merchant who runs a memory product store on Alibaba Group Holding’s Taobao.com, believes that even if China’s ban reaches the consumer end, it will likely have a small impact as Micron products account for “a very low proportion” of market share.
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