Apple Warned by U.S. Lawmakers to Not Use China’s YMTC Chips in iPhone 14

U.S. lawmakers have warned Apple against using NAND flash memory chips from Chinese semiconductor manufacturer Yangtze Memory Technologies Co (YMTC) in the recently unveiled iPhone 14 lineup — reports the Financial Times.

Marco Rubio, Republican vice-chair of the Senate intelligence committee, and Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, said they were alarmed over reports of Apple sourcing NAND chips from YMTC.

NAND flash chips make up the internal storage of modern smartphones. They store everything from the phone’s operating system to user data. The Republicans said Apple could face intense scrutiny from Congress if the tech giant adds YMTC to its list of suppliers.

“Apple is playing with fire,” Rubio told the Financial Times. “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.”

Apple has been assessing new partners for NAND flash chips, YMTC among them, since earlier in the year. The iPhone maker was prompted to diversify its NAND procurement after a supply disruption at a key Japanese supplier.

In response to the congressional concerns, Apple said in a statement that it has not used YMTC chips in any products. The company said it is “evaluating sourcing from YMTC for Nand chips to be used in some iPhones sold in China.”

Apple clarified that it has no plans to use YMTC chips in iPhones intended for sale outside China. The company further added that all user data stored on NAND flash chips in Apple products, regardless of manufacturer, is “fully encrypted.”

The U.S. government has been cracking down on YMTC in recent months for its ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Back in July, a bipartisan group of senators urged the Biden administration to put YMTC on the U.S.’s “entity list,” arguing that the Chinese tech giant was violating export control rules by selling memory chips to Huawei. U.S. companies are prohibited from providing technology to any names on the entity list, a commerce department blacklist.

“YMTC is an immediate threat,” the senators wrote to commerce secretary Gina Raimondo at the time.

The lawmakers also alleged that Beijing is heavily subsidizing YMTC, helping the “national champion” sell chips below cost so that it dominates the sector globally.

Apple launched iPhone 14 line up pre-orders today in Canada and beyond, with early orders off to a rough start. The online store was overwhelmed and users were unable to check out, while those using Paybright for financing are still seeing delays in completing orders.