The US continues to crack down on Chinese technology, this time targeting the mainframes that power the Chinese military. The Department of Commerce has added seven supercomputer companies and organizations to its list of companies that prevent US companies from supplying equipment or otherwise doing business. They are building supercomputers that will help “destabilize” military modernization efforts, nuclear weapons and hypersonic technology, US officials said.
The companies addressed include Sunway, the Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center and Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, as well as supercomputer centers in Jinan, Shenzhen, Wuxi and Zhengzhou.
It is not yet certain how China will react besides anger. The country has taken steps to reduce its reliance on US technology through domestic manufacturing, but US trade bans have limited those efforts. Many of the factories that make advanced chips are located outside of mainland China and are often partially dependent on US technology. So the country has no choice but to either invest heavily in domestic production or use outdated manufacturing techniques.
Unlike similar bans on companies like Huawei and DJI, there are no allegations of espionage or human rights abuses to justify the move. This is all about curbing the technological development of the Chinese military. With this in mind, it is noteworthy that trade bans in supercomputers are seen as important policy tools – it is not just the factories or the weapons themselves that are a cause for concern.