YMTC's CEO is replaced amid concerns of US sanctions following the rumored Apple deal

BEIJING: Yangtze Memory Technologies Co (YMTC), China's largest producer of memory chips, has stepped down as the company faces mounting pressure due to potential US sanctions.

Simon Yang, who has led the Tsinghua Unigroup subsidiary since its founding in 2016, is stepping down, but will remain with the company as deputy chairman, according to Chinese industry news website IC Rank.

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According to the report, Chen Nanjiang, the industry veteran and former deputy general manager of China Resources Microelectronics, has been appointed as the chairman and acting CEO.

According to Taiwan's website Tech News, Yang is resigning for personal reasons. On Saturday, YMTC did not respond to requests for comment.

Yang, a US-educated engineer who spent more than a decade at Intel and GlobalFoundries, is a key figure in China's effort for technological independence.

Yang joined Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), the country's largest chip foundry, in 2001 and became chief operating officer in 2010 before resigning the following year.

Yang was named the new CEO of Wuhan Xinxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp in January 2013. Tsinghua Unigroup acquired the memory chip maker in 2016, which was renamed YMTC.

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YMTC rapidly developed into an industry under Yang's leadership. According to Chinese media, one of its latest products is a 232-layer chip, which puts it on a par with major memory chip makers such as Samsung Electronics, Micron and SK Hynix.

This detail has attracted attention. Washington is reportedly considering a ban on selling US semiconductor manufacturing equipment to China's Advanced NAND Flash Chip Foundry, citing national security and a "growing threat" to US chip companies posed by manufacturers such as YMTC.

News that Apple is considering using YMTC's flash memory in iPhones sold in China has angered some lawmakers. A group of US senators called for a national security review of a possible deal between the two companies last week, citing privacy and security concerns.

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Two Republican congressmen announced Friday that they had introduced legislation to "impose crippling restrictions" on YMTC to prevent Apple from using its chips.

The YMTC has denied allegations by US politicians that it has links to the Chinese military, but has not publicly commented on the possibility of sanctions. The company also hasn't confirmed the number of memory cell layers in its latest products, preferring to keep its latest breakthroughs under wraps.

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