US Blacklists Seven Chinese Supercomputer Organisations

The US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has added seven Chinese supercomputing organisations to the Entity List which bars them from conducting activities with US companies without first obtaining a US government license.

These are organisations considered  to be contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.  The companies added to the  list are involved either with building supercomputers used by China’s military actors, its military modernisation efforts or weapons of mass destruction.

US officials have long complained that Chinese companies are under the direction of the People’s Republic of China and collect sensitive information on behalf of the People’s Liberation Army. It is the first move by the Biden administration to make it harder for China to obtain US technology. “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 statement.

The sanctioned groups are leading China's supercomputing development and are all key actors in Beijing's plan for self-sufficiency in the manufacture of semiconductors and computer chips. 

Raimondo said 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". The Trump administration had also targeted dozens of Chinese companies it suspected of using American technology for military uses, including phone network manufacturer Huawei. 

Former US President Donald Trump also tried to force the Chinese owner of video service TikTok to sell its US unit and issued an order barring Americans from investing in securities of companies deemed by the Pentagon to be linked to China's military.

Mr Biden's move requires the seven Chinese groups to obtain licenses to access American technologies, including chip infrastructures designed by Intel and other US chip makers.

While the blacklist bars US-based companies from providing services and products to the Chinese firms, it doesn't bar those 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.

What Is A Supercomputer?

Supercomputers have a considerably higher level of performance compared to a general-purpose computer and can make billions of calculations per second. They are made up of thousands of connected processors and are used for functions like forecasting weather and climate trends, simulating nuclear tests and for pharmaceutical research. They are also necessary for the development of advanced weapons such as hypersonic missiles. "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," Ms Raimondo said..

'Not Waiting Around'

The US is worried about China gaining access to American technology that helps its army close the gap with the US military.The Biden administration is currently reviewing dozens of China-related actions that Donald Trump took. "Do you think China is waiting around to invest in its digital infrastructure or research and development? I promise you, they are not waiting," Mr Biden said in a speech recently. he also said that China and the rest of the world "are racing ahead of us in the investments they have in the future". 

The seven organisations blacklisted are: 

  • Tianjin Phytium Information Technology Co.
  • Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center
  • Sunway Microelectronics
  • National Supercomputing Center - Jinan
  • National Supercomputing Center - Shenzhen
  • National Supercomputing Center - Wuxi
  • National Supercomputing Center - Zhengzhou

 

President Biden has also said he wants better relations with Beijing, but has given no indication he will cancel sanctions imposed by Trump on Chinese telecom equipment giant Huawei and other companies. Meanwhile, American telecom regulators are in the process of stripping three Chinese phone carriers of the right to operate in the United States as part of the 2020 US National 5G Strategy introduced by Trump.

US Dept. of Commerce:     Bloomberg:       CNBC:       Bank Info Security:       BBC:        SCMP

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