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Idaho senator discusses Chinese Micron sanctions

The Chinese government earlier this week told companies in information-sensitive industries in China to stop buying products from Boise-based Micron.

BOISE, Idaho — Earlier this week, the Chinese government told Chinese companies in information-sensitive industries to stop buying products from Boise-based Micron - the largest memory chip manufacturer in the United States.

In a short statement, the Cyberspace Administration of China said that products from Micron have "serious network security risks," but gave no specific details to support the claims. 

U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) sat down with KTVB to talk about the sanctions, and what this means for U.S./China relations. 

"I think most people are well aware of what a brutal regime that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is, how they do things very different than the values that we have," Risch said. "Over there, the government, the state is the top actor, individuals mean nothing, individual rights mean nothing, human rights mean nothing. As a result of that, they do things very, very differently."

While some have been calling the Chinese government's move against Micron a ban, Senator Risch said that is not quite the case. 

"They're really not banned from China," Risch said. "China said they weren't going to use them anymore in their defense products. Also discouraged people from using them otherwise, but certainly they're not banned from China."

Sen. Risch is the ranking Republican of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee. He said China does things different than America, and the Chinese government passed the sanctions without giving any specifics on how Micron posed a security risk.

"We do have ways of looking at export controls, to see that America's best top-secret things don't leave the country, but it's based upon due process. It's based upon a real rigorous review of the product, or idea or whatever it is," Risch said. "China has done this with providing absolutely no factual basis whatsoever - and wouldn't respond, because they can't respond to a factual basis before this - there is none."

Risch said there's nothing wrong with Micron's security.

"No one has higher standards than Micron," Risch said. "[China is] doing it simply to harass Micron, as they've done a number of times before. Like I said, the important thing that we know is that this doesn't end Micron in China, they have a lot of business interests in China."

Micron put out the following statement about the sanctions:

"We have received the CAC’s notice following its review of Micron products sold in China. We are evaluating the CAC's conclusion and assessing our next steps. We look forward to continuing to engage in discussions with Chinese authorities.”

China's move escalates their ongoing feud with the U.S. over technology and security. As for if we'll see a response from Washington, Sen. Risch said the pros and cons of any type of reaction must be weighed.

"You don't want to do something that escalates and causes a worse problem," Risch said. "At this particular point, we've already got a bunch of rubs going on with with China. As you know, China has banned things like Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter already over there, completely. Of course, we're looking at TikTok, and there are there are good reasons why TikTok needs to be looked at. The the issue is, of course - we have freedoms here. We have freedom of speech, we have the First Amendment, we have due process. China is not bothered by any of those things, and if they want to do something, they they do it. We don't do business like that in America."

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