Chinese chip maker fires all American workers: Report

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

The move by Yangtze Memory Technologies Co.

Semiconductor chips

Semiconductor chips are seen on a circuit board of a computer.

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

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 would tighten export controls to limit China’s ability to obtain advanced computing chips, develop and maintain supercomputers, and make advanced semiconductors.

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

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The Commerce Department, which has been consulting 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 ever-changing, and we’re updating our policy today to ensure we address (China’s) challenges while continuing our outreach and coordination with allies and partners,” Commerce Secretary for Industry and Security Alan Estevez said in a statement.

Tensions have risen between the US and China over technology and security. Last month, the Chinese government called on Washington to scrap its technology export routes after California-based chip designer Nvidia said a new product could be delayed and some work could 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 spends a lot to develop its new manufacturers, but so far cannot make high-end chips used in the most modern smartphones and other devices.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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