Biden targets supercomputers in first move against China tech

There appear to be few similarities between President Joe Biden and the former occupant of the White House — certainly when it comes to their approach to governing the United States.

However, the Biden administration seems to be upholding one Trump tradition: blacklisting Chinese technology organizations.

The Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has just announced it has added seven Chinese supercomputing entities to the Entity List "for conducting activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States."

The Entity List was used in anger by former President Donald Trump to group together organizations that US companies cannot supply.

Although Biden has said he wants better relations with Beijing, he has given no indication he will roll back sanctions imposed by Trump on Huawei and other companies.

Indeed, the new announcement is being hailed as Biden's first trade action against China, with a specific focus on suspected support of military efforts.

Military links?

The entities now added to the list are Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics, the National Supercomputing Center Jinan, the National Supercomputing Center Shenzhen, the National Supercomputing Center Wuxi, and the National Supercomputing Center Zhengzhou.

According to the BIS, these entities "are involved with building supercomputers used by China's military actors, its destabilizing military modernization efforts, and/or weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs."

Gina Raimondo, the US Secretary of Commerce, noted that 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."

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"The Department of Commerce will use the full extent of its authorities to prevent China from leveraging US technologies to support these destabilizing military modernization efforts."

A quick search reveals that the Biden administration has placed on the Entity List four entities from Burma and 14 entities that are alleged to support Russia's WMD program.

Two Burmese military and security services entities and two commercial entities that are owned and operated by one of those entities were added in response to the military coup and escalating violence against peaceful protesters.

The BIS also said it added 14 entities located in Russia, Germany and Switzerland "based on their proliferation activities in support of Russia's weapons of mass destruction programs and chemical weapons activities."

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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