US Cracks Down on Chinese Companies for Security Concerns

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration on Thursday added 36 companies and organizations, including a major Chinese chip maker, to a so-called entity list that will severely restrict their access to certain products, software and technologies.

The action, which is aimed at further stymieing China’s efforts to develop advanced semiconductors, is the latest step in the Biden administration’s campaign to clamp down on China’s access to technologies that could be used for military purposes.

Administration officials say that China has increasingly blurred the lines between its military and civilian industries, prompting the United States to place restrictions on doing business with Chinese companies that may feed into Beijing’s military ambitions. In October, the administration announced sweeping limits on semiconductor exports to China, both from companies within the United States and in other countries that use American technology to make those products.

“Today we are building on the actions we took in October to protect U.S. national security by severely restricting the PRC’s ability to leverage artificial intelligence, advanced computing, and other powerful, commercially available technologies for military modernization and human rights abuses,” Alan Estevez, the under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said in a statement, referring to the People’s Republic of China.

Among the most notable companies added to the list is Yangtze Memory Technologies Corporation, a company that was said to be in talks with Apple to potentially supply components for the iPhone 14.

The U.S. government says the targeted companies are producers and purveyors of technologies that could pose a significant security risk to the United States, like advanced chips that are used to power artificial intelligence and hypersonic weapons, and components for Iranian drones and ballistic missiles.

Some companies, including Y.M.T.C. and its Japanese subsidiary, were added to the list because the administration said they posed a significant risk of transferring sensitive items to other companies sanctioned by the U.S. government, including Huawei Technologies and Hikvision.

The Commerce department said that another entity, Tianjin Tiandi Weiye Technologies, was added for its role in aiding China’s campaign of repression and surveillance of Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, as well as providing U.S. products to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Twenty-three of the entities — in particular, those supplying advanced chips used for artificial intelligence with close ties to the Chinese military and defense industry, and two Chinese companies that were found to be supporting the Russian military — were hit with even tougher restrictions.

The companies will be subject to what’s known as the foreign direct product rule, which will cut them off from buying products made anywhere in the world with the use of American technology or software, which would encompass most global technology companies.

The Biden administration also said it would lift restrictions on some companies that had successfully undergone U.S. government checks that ensured their products weren’t being used for purposes that the government deemed harmful to national security.

As part of the restrictions unveiled in October, the Biden administration placed dozens of Chinese firms on a watch list that required them to work with the U.S. government to verify that their products were not being used for activities that would pose a security risk to the United States.

A total of 25 entities completed those checks, in cooperation with the Chinese government, and thus have been removed from the list. Nine Russian parties that were unable to clear those checks were added to the entity list, the department said.

A spokesperson for the Commerce Department said that the actions demonstrated that the United States would defend its national security but also stood ready to work in cooperation with companies and host governments to ensure compliance with U.S. export controls.

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