Chinese chip maker fires all American workers: Report

A Chinese chipmaker has asked all of its US employees in core tech positions to leave as the company struggles to comply with new US export controls, according to a new report.

The move by Yangtze Memory Technologies Co. (YMTC) follows Apple’s decision to abort plans to use its memory chips, following Washington’s imposition of tighter export controls.

Semiconductor chips are seen on a circuit board of a computer. (Reuters/Florence Lo/Reuters Photos)

A person close to the matter told The Financial Times that asking staff to resign was “necessary for the company and the right move for employees’ personal risk as well.”

It remains unclear how many US citizens and green card holders would be forced to leave. People close to the company told The Times that several employees have already left the country.

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The US Commerce Department said earlier this month it was tightening export controls to limit China’s ability to get advanced computing chips, develop and maintain supercomputers, and make advanced semiconductors.

The department said its updated export controls are focusing on these areas because China can use the chips, supercomputers and semiconductors to create advanced military systems — including weapons of mass destruction — commit human rights abuses and improve the speed and accuracy of its military decision-making , planning and logistics.

chinese president

Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen at the end of the Chinese Communist Party’s 20th Party Congress on a giant screen in a commercial district of Hangzhou in eastern China’s Zhejiang province on Sunday, Oct 23, 2022. (Associated Press/AP Newsroom)

The Commerce Department, which consulted with close allies and partners on its control efforts, said the updates are part of ongoing efforts to protect US national security and foreign policy interests.

“The threat environment is always changing, and we are updating our policies today to make sure we’re addressing the challenges posed by (China) while we continue our outreach and coordination with allies and partners,” Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Alan Estevez said in a statement.

Tensions have been rising between the US and China over technology and security. Last month the Chinese government called on Washington to repeal its technology export curbs after California-based chip designer Nvidia said a new product might be delayed and some work might be moved out of China.

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Washington has tightened controls and lobbied allies to limit Chinese access to the most advanced chips and tools to develop its own. China is spending heavily to develop its fledgling producers but so far cannot make high-end chips used in the most advanced smartphones and other devices.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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