US to slap trade restrictions on China’s YMTC

The US is set to place Chinese NAND maker YMTC on its trade blacklist in days, according to the Financial Times.

The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) placed YMTC on its Unverified List (UVL) in mid-October. This is because YMTC was believed to be “at significant risk of being or becoming involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”

Unless they pass US checks for activities such as not supplying China’s military organizations, UVL classified companies are moved to the full Entity List 60 days after UVL status begins. And that 60 day period is almost up for YMTC.

The FT reports that YMTC supplied NAND chips to Huawei, which would violate US export controls. YMTC had also apparently been stockpiling necessary equipment in preparation for Entity List status.

Entity List status means US business cannot sell products or services to such companies unless an export license is granted. That will restrict YMTC’s ability to produce its current 232-layer Xtacking. 3.0 NAND and develop a follow-on process.


Reuters reports that China has complained to the World Trade Organisation that US chip technology export controls are illegal. This has little to no chance of successfully getting the US to reverse its anti-China technology policy.

The US is negotiating with Japan and the Netherlands to set up a three-way deal to stop advanced chip making equipment, built by companies headquartered in those countries, from being sold to businesses in China.

SemiAnalysis consultant Dylan Patel wrote: “The US is forcefully decoupling the entire advanced technology supply chain before China insources it. Advanced logic, such as AI and HPC chips, are restricted. Equipment for 16nm or more minor logic chips, non-planar logic chips including FinFET and Gate All Around, NAND with 128-layers or more, and DRAM with 18nm half-pitch or less are restricted.”

In Patel’s view, the US has declared an economic war against China concerning advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment. As US, Korean and Japanese chipmakers advance their DRAM and NAND technologies with denser and faster chips, the intention would seem to be that Chinese manufacturers will not be able to keep pace. This will deny that level of equipment to China’s organizations and is supposed to protect US national security interests – unless China somehow manages to develop the tools and technology needed itself.