China probing chipmakers Samsung, Micro Technology, SK Hynix, report says

All three are dominant suppliers of DRAM chips, which have gone up significantly in price.

Abrar Al-Heeti Technology Reporter
Abrar Al-Heeti is a technology reporter for CNET, with an interest in phones, streaming, internet trends, entertainment, pop culture and digital accessibility. She's also worked for CNET's video, culture and news teams. She graduated with bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Though Illinois is home, she now loves San Francisco -- steep inclines and all.
Expertise Abrar has spent her career at CNET analyzing tech trends while also writing news, reviews and commentaries across mobile, streaming and online culture. Credentials
  • Named a Tech Media Trailblazer by the Consumer Technology Association in 2019, a winner of SPJ NorCal's Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2022 and has three times been a finalist in the LA Press Club's National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards.
Abrar Al-Heeti
2 min read
Ram memory detail
Getty Images

Chinese regulators have launched a probe into memory chip makers Micron Technology, Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. 

The China offices of all three companies were reportedly visited recently by China's State Administration for Market Regulation. Boise, Idaho-based Micron Technology confirmed to CNET that its China sales office was visited on May 31, and that it's cooperating with Chinese officials. The company didn't disclose what information the authorities were seeking. 

The three companies are dominant suppliers of DRAM, or dynamic random-access memory, chips used in smartphones and computers to store data. Office visits by Chinese investigators come as prices of the chips have soared, according to Reuters

"China [is] trying to protect their PC and smartphone market from rising DRAM costs," Stifel Nicolaus analyst Kevin Cassidy told Reuters. "Typically, China PC and smartphones sell at lower costs/margins than those in other countries." 

Chinese government officials have asked Samsung and SK Hynix, both headquartered in South Korea, to lower memory chip prices for top Chinese consumer electronics companies, according to The Korea Times

SK Hynix told CNET it's cooperating with the investigation. The other firms are also cooperating, the Journal reported, though none disclosed what the probe is about. Samsung Electronics and China's State Administration for Market Regulation didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

China is working to lower its dependence on imported chips, the Journal reports, as almost 90 percent of the $190 billion worth of chips used there are imported or made in China by foreign-owned companies. China is reportedly working to domestically develop and produce memory chips.

In April, the US Commerce Department banned US companies from selling components to ZTE for seven years after determining that the Chinese telecom giant violated terms of a 2017 settlement by illegally shipping US equipment to Iran. The ban forced ZTE to shut down its "major operating activities." 

First published June 4, 1:43 p.m. PT
Updates, 4:10 p.m.: Adds comment from Micron; June 5 at 9:59 a.m.: Includes comment from SK Hynix. 

'Hello, humans': Google's Duplex could make Assistant the most lifelike AI yet.

CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET's newsstand edition.