US blacklists more Chinese tech firms
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US blacklists more Chinese tech firms

Biden administration broadens its crackdown on China's chip industry

The Biden administration on Thursday added Chinese memory chipmaker Yangtze Memory Technologies Co Ltd (YMTC) and 21 "major" Chinese players in the artificial intelligence chip sector to a trade blacklist, broadening its crackdown on China's chip industry.

YMTC, long in the crosshairs of the US government, was added to the list over fears it could divert American technology to previously blacklisted Chinese tech giants Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Hangzhou Hikvision Technology Co Ltd.

The move, laid out in the Federal Register, will bar YMTC's suppliers from shipping US goods to it without a difficult-to-obtain licence.

The 21 Chinese AI chip entities being added to the trade blacklist, which include Cambricon Technologies Corp and China Electronics Technology Group Corp (CETC), face an even tougher penalty, with the US government effectively blocking their access to technology made anywhere in the world with US equipment.

"As the Chinese government seeks to remove barriers between its military and civilian sectors, US national security interests require that we act decisively to deny access to advanced technologies," Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration Thea Kendler said in a statement.

YMTC, Cambricon and CETC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Chinese embassy in Washington said the United States was engaging in "blatant economic coercion and bullying in the field of technology," undermining normal business activities between Chinese and American companies and threatening the stability of global supply chains.

"China will resolutely safeguard the lawful rights and interests of Chinese companies and institutions," it added.

The move builds on sweeping export controls imposed on Beijing in October to slow Beijing's technological and military advances, including measures to curb China's access to US chipmaking tools and cut it off from certain chips made anywhere in the world with American equipment.

It also comes as Congress prepares to finalise legislation to bar the US government from buying products that contain semiconductors made by YMTC, Chinese memory chipmaker Memory Technologies (CXMT) or China's top chip manufacturer Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC).

The Commerce Department on Thursday also targeted nine Chinese entities for allegedly seeking to support China's military modernisation, including Shanghai Micro Electronics Equipment Group Co Ltd (SMEE), China's only lithography company.

SMEE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It also added Chinese surveillance camera maker Tianjin Tiandi Weiye Technology Co Ltd for allegedly participating in "China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-tech surveillance against Uyghurs."

Tiandi did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A total of 35 Chinese entities were added to the US trade blacklist, known as the entity list, as well as YMTC's Japan-based subsidiary.

Thursday's announcements weren't all bad news for Beijing.

The Biden administration removed a subsidiary of Wuxi Biologics, a company that makes ingredients for AstraZeneca Plc's Covid-19 vaccine, and 26 other Chinese entities from the so-called unverified list thanks to successful site visits.

Wuxi did not respond to a request for comment.

Two of the Chinese companies removed from the unverified list -- YMTC and SMEE -- were added to the entity list.

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