The Biden administration has added seven Chinese tech firms to an export blacklist, accusing them of building supercomputers for China’s military.
The addition of the companies to the Commerce Department’s Entity List means U.S. firms cannot export technology to them without a license. According to the department, they are “involved with building supercomputers used by China’s military actors, its destabilizing military modernization efforts, and/or weapons of mass destruction programs.”
“Supercomputing capabilities are vital for the development of many — perhaps almost all — modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a news release.
“The Department of Commerce will use the full extent of its authorities to prevent China from leveraging U.S. technologies to support these destabilizing military modernization efforts,” she added.
The Entity List has existed for years but as CNN reports, “during the Trump administration, the U.S. government began adding Chinese businesses to the list at a faster pace, beginning with companies such as Huawei, the global telecommunications giant.”
Lindsay Gorman, a technology expert at the German Marshall Fund, said that by using a tool that was frequently employed by his predecessor, Biden had “put to bed” any sense that he would not be tough on China.
“It was an open [question] whether a favored tool of the Trump administration would be continued in the Biden administration,” he told the Financial Times.
The companies added to the list on Thursday include Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics, and four National Supercomputing Centers in Jinan, Shenzhen, Wuxi, and Zhengzhou.
“The U.S. is concerned about China gaining access to American technology that helps the People’s Liberation Army close the gap with the U.S. military and field weapons that could alter the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific,” the FT said.
Phytium reportedly uses technology from two California-based companies, Cadence Design Systems and Synopsys. The Entity List move would not bar them from supplying the Chinese firms if that technology is produced in facilities outside of the U.S.