Chinese company charged with stealing trade secrets from United States chipmaker

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces criminal charges against Chinese and Taiwanese electronics companies accused of stealing the technology of US semiconductor giant Micron

"Chinese economic espionage against the United States has been increasing - and it has been increasing rapidly". "We are here today to say enough is enough".

Department of Justice officials say alleged Chinese economic espionage is "increasing rapidly", and they have established a high-level initiative dedicated to countering what they call a pervasive threat to USA national security.

"Those discussions are moving along nicely with meetings being scheduled at the G-20 in Argentina", Trump said referring to a likely meeting with Xi Jinping later this month. In the meantime, Washington is signaling that the gloves are off.

With the U.S. unsealing a criminal indictment against United Microelectronics (UMC) and its China-based partner of stealing trade secrets from Micron Technology, the Taiwan-based foundry has issued a statement dismissing the allegations. With this new initiative, he said, "we will confront China's malign behaviors and encourage them to conduct themselves as they aspire to be one of the world's leading nations".

The three individuals charged in the indictments are all former employees of Micron's Taiwan unit.

The Justice Department unveiled charges against Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit, a Chinese state-owned enterprise; United Microelectronics Corp., a Taiwanese semiconductor company; and three Taiwanese nationals. Its shares fell as much as 2.9 percent Friday.

The Taiwanese company partnered with the Chinese company Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co. and shared technology, according to the Justice Department.

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The United States also sued on Thursday to block the transfer of trade secrets and to prevent the companies from exporting to the USA any products that they manufacture by exploiting stolen information.

Late in 2017, Micron took legal action in a USA court against UMC charging that the Taiwanese company had stolen and copied its design and manufacturing technologies. Chen then went on to become president of Jinhua in February of 2017. President Donald Trump has slapped tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese products in an effort to narrow the US trade deficit with China.

"UMC regrets that the U.S. Attorney's Office brought these charges without first notifying UMC and giving it an opportunity to discuss the matter", the company said. Wang allegedly downloaded secrets from Micron's servers in the United States and stored them on his Google Drive account, the indictment said. China has strongly criticized USA arms sales to Taiwan, and the US has renewed its criticism of Beijing's island-building in the disputed South China Sea. The company, which was spun out of public sector lab ITRI in 1980 and pioneered chipmaking in Taiwan, said it takes the charges seriously but pointed out that they are nearly identical to those leveled by Micron in an ongoing civil case.

The Commerce Department has added Jinhua to an Entity List to prevent it from buying goods and services in the USA to limit profitability from stolen tech. Without equipment sold only in the United States, Jinhua can not build the DRAM chips.

The companies and the individuals are charged with "conspiracy to commit economic espionage, conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets, and receiving and possessing stolen trade secrets".

The new initiative, Session said, would address two major responsibilities of the National Security Division: review of investments and licenses in the country's infrastructure and telecommunications; and counter covert efforts to influence leaders and the general public.

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