According to the Financial Times, U.S. lawmakers have warned the tech giant Apple against using memory chips from a Chinese semiconductor firm in the new iPhone 14.

The concerns came after Korean news outlet Business Korea reported that Apple had added Chinese firm Yangtze Memory Technologies Co (YMTC) to its suppliers’ list of NAND flash suppliers for the new iPhone 14.

The article said that Apple wanted to reduce the prices of NAND flashes by diversifying suppliers. 

Marco Rubio, the vice-chair of the Senate intelligence committee, told the Financial Times he is concerned, “Apple is playing with fire.”

Rubio added, “It knows the security risks posed by YMTC. If it moves forward, it will be subject to scrutiny like it has never seen from the federal government. We cannot allow Chinese companies beholden to the Communist party into our telecommunications networks and millions of Americans’ iPhones.”

When asked about the concerns from lawmakers, Apple told the Financial Times it was “evaluating sourcing from YMTC for NAND chips to be used in some iPhones sold in China.” The company added that it did not use China’s YMTC semiconductors in its products.

As reported by the Financial Times in April, the U.S. would investigate China’s state-owned YMTC because it sold chips to Huawei, violating U.S. export control rules. The Commerce Department banned American and foreign companies from supplying Huawei in May 2019, citing national security concerns.

In recent years, China has pushed ahead with its ambition to achieve global chip dominance as a part of its Made in China 2025 plan to compete with the U.S.

The National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund (CICF) was founded in 2014 as part of China’s major effort to boost its chip industry. The fund received an initial $22 billion investment and announced another $33 billion investment in 2019.

However, China’s ambition took a hard hit when eight Chinese officials in the semiconductor industry were fired and under investigation in July. Most were high-profile figures in a Chinese chip monitoring agency and the CICF.

Earlier this month, the U.S. government ordered California-based chip designer Nvidia to stop exporting two top computing chips for artificial intelligence to China as Washington attempts to restrict its cutting-edge technology to its rival.

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