Seven Chinese business groups that were charged with manufacturing supercomputers for use by the country’s military were blacklisted by the United States. This is the first such move by the new Biden administration of the United States to put pressure on China to make it harder for it to access US proprietary technology.
The US added three companies and four branches of China’s National Supercomputing Center to a blacklist on Thursday.
According to the sanction, no American company would be allowed to export technology to the blacklisted Chinese groups without US government approval. The groups that have been blacklisted were engaged in building of supercomputers that are used by Chinese “military actors” and for facilitating programmes for the development of weapons of mass destruction, the US commerce department said.
The groups that have been sanctioned have crucial roles in China’s plan for chip self-sufficiency and are leaders in supercomputing development industry in China.
The Biden administration would use “the full extent of its authorities to prevent China from leveraging US technologies to support these destabilising military modernisation efforts”, said US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
Dozens of Chinese companies were also targeted by the Trump administration over suspicion of them using American technology for military uses, including phonemaker Huawei.
Under the latest sanctions, the Chinese companies blacklisted will now need special licenses to gain access to American technologies which will potentially include chip infrastructures designed by Intel and other US chipmakers.
Even though this blacklisting prevents all US companies from providing services and products to the Chinese firms, this is not applicable for technologies that are produced in facilities outside of the US.
One such company is TSMC, the Taiwan-based company that has become the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturer.
With considerably higher level of performance compared to the general purpose computers, supercomputers are able to make billions of calculations per second. Typically the making of supercomputers involves building thousands of connected processors and their use is made for functions such as weather forecasting and estimating climate trends, simulating nuclear tests as well as for research in the pharmaceutical field. Development of advanced weapons such as hypersonic missiles also makes use of supercomputers.
“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,” Raimondo added.
The worry in the US is that with access to American technology, the Chinese military will be able to close its gap with the US military.
Dozens of China-related actions that Donald Trump took are currently being reviewed by the Biden administration which includes an order that bars Americans from investing in Chinese companies that are believed to have links with the Chinese military.
“Do you think China is waiting around to invest in its digital infrastructure or research and development? I promise you, they are not waiting,” Biden said in a speech on Wednesday.
China and the rest of the world “are racing ahead of us in the investments they have in the future”, Biden said.
(Adapted from BBC.com)