China chipmaker Fujian Jinhua pleads not guilty to US theft charges

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese chipmaker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co Ltd said on Thursday it has pleaded not guilty to U.S. charges alleging that it stole trade secrets, in a case that has fanned tensions in the intensifying technology race between the two countries.

The U.S. Justice Department in November announced an indictment against state-owned Fujian Jinhua and Taiwan-based United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) 2303.TW, alleging they stole intellectual property from U.S.-based Micron Technology Inc MU.O.

In October, U.S. authorities added the Chinese firm to a list of entities that cannot buy components, software or technology goods from U.S. firms.

In November, Chinese officials said at a World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Geneva that the U.S. decision to cut off the firm from U.S. suppliers broke WTO trade rules and was aimed at protecting a U.S. monopoly.

Fujian Jinhua said in a statement posted on its official microblog account that it would work towards getting itself removed from the U.S. export control entity list and had hired lobbyists and legal advisors to help with its case.

The case has thrown a shadow over Fujian Jinhua’s semiconductor ambitions and Chinese government’s plan to cut a heavy reliance on U.S. imports. The firm had billed itself as a national leader in the tech industry.

The indictment was originally filed under seal in September by the U.S. district court of the Northern District of California.

UMC previously said the case mirrored a similar complaint filed against it, and that it regretted the latest charges had been brought before being given a chance to discuss the matter.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz and Adam Jourdan; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Christopher Cushing