Samsung DRAM chips from 2001. Photo: Samsung Electronics/Newsmakers via Getty Images

The Chinese government has launched an investigation into U.S. and South Korean memory-chip makers Micron, Samsung and SK Hynix, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The big picture: It's not yet clear why China is probing the foreign companies, but the move comes as China looks to strengthen domestic tech and curb reliance on the West.

The backdrop: After U.S. sanctions prompted an effective shutdown of Chinese phonemaker ZTE, Beijing resolved to invest in its chip makers. "Nearly 90% of the $190 billion worth of chips used in the country are imported or produced in China by foreign-owned companies, according to International Business Strategies Inc., a research firm," the Journal reports.

What's next: “I wouldn’t be surprised if China is trying to negotiate some tech transfer and trying to put pressure on the incumbent memory makers to share some technology with the domestic Chinese memory makers,” Bernstein analyst Mark Newman told the Journal.

Go deeper: Chinese theft of U.S. tech is hard to stop

Go deeper

The Biden blowout scenario

Joe Biden speaks at an outdoor Black Economic Summit in Charlotte yesterday. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Joe Biden or President Trump could win the election narrowly — but only one in a popular and electoral vote blowout. 

Why it matters: A Biden blowout would mean a Democratic Senate, a bigger Democratic House and a huge political and policy shift nationwide.

43 mins ago - Technology

Justice's moves ring Big Tech with regulatory threats

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The Department of Justice proposed legislation to curb liability protections for tech platforms and moved a step closer toward an antitrust lawsuit against Google Wednesday.

The big picture: As President Trump faces re-election, lawmakers and regulators are hurriedly wrapping up investigations and circling Big Tech with regulatory threats.

Democrats' mail voting pivot

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Democrats spent the early months of the coronavirus pandemic urging their base to vote absentee. But as threats of U.S. Postal Service delays, Team Trump litigation and higher ballot rejection rates become clearer, many are pivoting to promote more in-person voting as well.

Why it matters: Democrats are exponentially more likely to vote by mail than Republicans this year — and if enough mail-in ballots are lost, rejected on a technicality or undercounted, it could change the outcome of the presidential election or other key races.

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