The Biden administration is expected to announce new measures to restrict Chinese companies from accessing technologies that enable high-performance computing, according to several people familiar with the matter, the latest in a series of moves designed to stymie Beijing’s ambitions for next-generation weapons. and automation of large-scale surveillance systems.
The measures, which could be announced as soon as this week, will be among the most important steps the Biden administration has taken to cut off China’s access to advanced semiconductor technology. They will build on a Trump era ruling that struck a blow to Chinese telecom giant Huawei by preventing companies around the world from sending products made using US technology, machinery or software.
A number of Chinese companies, government research labs and other entities are expected to face similar restrictions to Huawei, according to two people familiar with the plans. In fact, any company that uses US-made technologies will be prevented from selling to Chinese entities targeted by the administration. It is not yet clear which Chinese companies and laboratories will be affected.
The broad expansion of the so-called foreign direct product base is just one part of Washington’s planned constraints. The administration is also expected to try to control the sale of high-end US gadgets to chip makers in China.
People said Washington also plans to limit the sale of US-made microchips to China’s most powerful supercomputing and data center projects. This limitation may hinder the ability of major academic institutions and internet companies such as Alibaba and Tencent to obtain the parts they need to build leading data centers and supercomputers.
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Over time, as supercomputers’ performance levels rise, this limit could seriously hamper China’s ability to develop robust, number-crunching technology that is the building block for innovations across a range of fields, including biosciences, artificial intelligence, and missile engineering. Restrictions on chips and chip-making tools were Earlier reported by Reuters.
Administration officials are also considering other measures that could apply to the Chinese memory chip maker Yangtze Memory Technology Corporationor YMTC, several people familiar with the discussions said.
The White House declined to comment on the planned restrictions. A spokesperson for the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, which has authority over the types of technology companies can export outside the United States, said they could not confirm anything at this point.
If these measures are enacted, it will be the strongest push yet by the United States to hit the burgeoning supercomputer and data center market in China. Many Chinese universities, state-run companies, and Internet companies operate supercomputers with a range of capabilities. Much is used for important, albeit mundane tasks, such as analyzing road traffic, managing social networks or forecasting the weather, but analysts and researchers have shown how others are being used for more insidious purposes.
China Use some supercomputer To operate invasive surveillance systems targeting ethnic minorities. Others have been used by Beijing to model nuclear explosions and design next-generation weapons that could evade American defenses.
For example, in western China’s Xinjiang region, where hundreds of thousands of the Uyghur minority have been detained and monitored, a supercomputer was built. With chips from Intel and Nvidia It was used to process footage collected from video cameras scattered all over the area. Both Intel and Nvidia said they were unaware of what they described as the misuse of their technology.
The US government has sought to limit the flow of technology to projects like these in recent years, but these efforts have been thwarted by the widespread availability of powerful microchips.
Many of these products sold to China are manufactured outside the US, which means that the US government’s traditional methods of regulation, which focus on products exported from the US, do not apply. So officials in the Trump and Biden administrations have turned to tapping into the Foreign Direct Products Rule, a blanket regulation that prohibits the sale of products made anywhere in the world with the help of US technology, machinery, or software to China. Even semiconductors manufactured in other countries are often made using American equipment and software.”
The Biden administration has faced some criticism that it has moved slowly to limit China’s access to cutting-edge US technology. For many management officials, China’s recent progress in Removing a major technological obstacle The field of semiconductor manufacturing underlined the urgent need for more expansionary regulation in the industry, said people familiar with the discussions.
Export controls are part of a larger strategy by the Biden administration to starve China of key technologies while pumping money into US chip-making plants. Actions come in Beijing It escalates its aggression towards Taiwanwhich produces almost all of the world’s advanced semiconductors.
In remarks at the White House last month, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said, He said The US government previously tried to stay a few generations ahead of competitors in certain key technologies, but this approach is no longer rigorous enough.
“Given the foundational nature of certain technologies, such as advanced logic and memory chips, we must maintain as much leadership as possible,” he said.
The Biden administration has been cited Extensive use of export controls As a powerful tool to punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, saying it would cripple Russia in the fields of defense, technology, energy and other vital sectors in the long term. US officials say they could apply the same tool to other rival nations, particularly China, to address national security challenges. Officials say the Trump administration’s use of export controls designed to cripple Huawei has served as a model for how to craft controls on Russian companies.
Last month, the Biden administration Imposing new restrictions On the sale of some advanced computer chips to China and Russia. These frontiers focused on high-end models of chips known as GPUs sold by Silicon Valley companies such as Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices. Products, which were originally made to display images in video games, have become critical to large computers that are used to train artificial intelligence algorithms.
The move was “probably the strongest type of regulatory and export control statement the US government has issued regarding China’s access to US technology,” said Paul Triulo, senior vice president of China at Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategy firm, at a time when Sensitive for the Chinese leadership, ahead of the meeting of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party, which will begin on October 16.
“The administration is setting foot here,” he said.