The Biden administration on Friday imposed sweeping new restrictions designed to restrict China’s access to technology critical to the manufacturing and operations of its military might.
The Commerce Department action applies new export controls to restrict China’s access to advanced computer chips, its ability to develop and maintain supercomputers and make semiconductors. The move cuts critical technology components for multiple economic sectors, but targets the manufacturing of advanced weapons systems more sharply.
“Our actions will protect US national security and foreign policy interests while sending a clear message that US technology leadership is as much about values as it is about innovation,” Thea D. Rozman Kendler, assistant secretary of commerce for the export administration, said in a statement. .
The US move is the latest salvo in an ever-escalating geopolitical competition that has grown increasingly tense under President Joe Biden. But the scale of the restrictions underscores an aggressive new phase in US efforts to counter, or block altogether, critical elements of China’s rapidly expanding military might.
Biden has spent his time in office regularly pointing to China’s economic and national security advances as a feature that animates his administration’s overall policy approach. Despite Biden’s familiarity with Chinese President Xi Jinping from his time as vice president, the bilateral relationship has followed a steady path of deterioration over the course of the past year.
As avenues for cooperation, and in some cases even conversation, have frozen, US officials have become intensely involved in identifying and deploying tools to defend US technology and economic know-how.
The new rules will require licenses for companies to export the specific technologies to Chinese entities identified as working against US national security interests. The radical movement is sharply focused on semiconductors, which have been in the center of a global sprint to increase manufacturing capacity and market share due to its need in the economic and national security sectors.
US officials see the specific technologies as critical components in China’s military infrastructure, encompassing everything from autonomous systems and the ability to improve speed and access to planning and logistics to the production of weapons of mass destruction.
Alan Estevez, undersecretary of commerce for industry and security, said the actions reflect what is considered the “north star” in his approach. That approach, Estévez made clear in his statement, “is to ensure that we are doing everything in our power adequately to protect our national security and prevent sensitive technologies with military applications from being acquired by the military, intelligence and security of the People’s Republic of China. .”