According to a September 24 report on Nikkei Asia, a team of U.S. senators has recently asked the nation’s top security officials to examine the potential risks posed by Apple’s plan to use a major Chinese firm’s memory chips for its new iPhone 14.
In a letter to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, the lawmakers, led by Sen. Marco Rubio, Senate Intelligence Committee vice chairman, said, “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.”
If such plan was implemented, it would “introduce significant privacy and security vulnerabilities to the global digital supply chain that Apple helps shape.”
This came after Business Korea on September 6 reported that Apple has included Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC) to its list of NAND flash suppliers for the new iPhone 14 series.
This marks the first time a Chinese firm has joined its list, as Apple has already purchased NAND flash memory from major suppliers such as Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix, Kioxia of Japan, and Micron Technology of the U.S.
In the letter, the senators urge Haines to analyze the economic and national security threats posed by such partnership, as well as the close ties between YMTC and the communist regime.
The White House announced last June that YMTC has received $24 billion from the CCP for rapid development.
The lawmakers want Haines to also pay close attention to YMTC’s support for other Chinese companies, including supplying the controversial telecom behemoth Huawei, which is under strict U.S. export control rules.
Therefore, the lawmakers warn in the letter that Apple and YMTC’s cooperation would facilitate “Beijing’s goal of controlling the global semiconductor market.”
Such a partnership would “affirm and reward [China’s] distortive and unfair trade practices, which undermine U.S. companies globally by creating significant advantages to Chinese firms at the expense of foreign competitors.”
In addition, the senators also claimed, “Buoyed by a major contract with a leading global equipment vendor such as Apple, YMTC’s success would threaten the 24,000 American jobs that support memory chip production.”
As reported by The Washington Post, Apple said that it will not use YMTC chips in any of its products, and all user data stored on the chips is “fully encrypted.”
Moreover, the company is still considering whether it should use the chips for iPhones in China, not the global market.
Apple also confirmed it would not use the chips for iPhones outside China. However, the senators still worry that those Chinese phones with YMTC chips will sneak out of China somehow and eventually make their way into the international market.