The U.S. Department of Commerce is adding 36 Chinese high-tech companies, including makers of aviation equipment, chemicals and computer chips, to an export controls blacklist, citing concerns over national security, U.S. interests and human rights.
The inclusion of the companies in the trade “Entity List” means that export licenses will likely be denied for any U.S. company trying to do business with them. In some cases, companies based in other countries are also required to comply with the requirements to prevent technologies from being diverted to uses banned under the export controls.
The move signals a hardening of U.S. efforts to prevent China, especially its military, from acquiring advanced technologies such as leading edge computer chips and hypersonic weapons. It’s the latest in a years-long escalation of U.S. restrictions of Chinese technology that began with President Donald Trump and has continued under President Joe Biden’s administration.
At the same time, the Biden administration has been moving to beef up American manufacturing capabilities for semiconductors and other advanced technologies.
The changes to the Commerce Department’s entity list were entered in the Federal Register, scheduled for publication Friday.
Yangtze Memory Technology Co., a computer chip maker based in the central city of Wuhan, and its Japan unit were included in the list for “posing a significant risk of becoming involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States,” according to the document.
It said Yangtze Memory Technologies and Hefei Core Storage Electronic Ltd. were included because they allegedly might act as suppliers to Huawei Technologies, the world’s biggest maker of network equipment, and to Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, another company subject to U.S. sanctions.
Late last month, the U.S. banned the sale of communications equipment made by Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE and restricting the use of some China-made video surveillance systems, including Hangzhou Hikvision, citing an “unacceptable risk” to national security.
Companies in the Anhui Cambricon Information Technology group, some affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Electronics Technology group, were said to be or have “close ties” to government institutions supporting the Chinese military and defense industry, it said.
Some of the companies were included in the list for being at “risk of diversion” to other companies on the entity list or are accused of illegally exporting U.S. electronics subject to export controls to Iran for military use.
Some major aviation suppliers were included to prevent them acquiring know-how and products that would aid China’s development of hypersonic weapons and other military capabilities.
Tianjin Tiandi Weiye Technologies Co. was listed, the document said, because it was implicated in high-technology surveillance, detentions and other human rights violations of Muslim ethnic minorities in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region.
There was no immediate comment from the Chinese government Friday. However, when asked Wednesday about reports that Washington was planning to change the trade blacklist to include more than 30 companies including Yangtze Memory Technologies, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the U.S. was “stretching the concept of national security, abusing export control measures, engaging in discriminatory and unfair treatment against enterprises of other countries, and politicizing and weaponizing economic and sci-tech issues.”
“This is blatant economic coercion and bullying in the field of technology,” Wang said, adding that it also undermined regular business activities. “It is not in the interests of China, the U.S. or the whole world.”
Earlier this week, China filed a lawsuit with the WTO against the United States over its export control measures for computer chips.
The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said Beijing did so to protect its “legitimate interests.”
A statement from the ministry, reported by the official Xinhua news agency, said such controls were protectionist and threatened the “stability of the global industrial and supply chains.”