April 9, 2024

US blacklists Chinese quantum computing companies

US blacklists Chinese quantum computing companies

The US has placed a dozen Chinese groups involved in quantum computing and other advanced technologies on an export blacklist, saying they pose a risk of gaining access to critical American technologies for the People’s Liberation Army.

The move, which makes it almost impossible for US companies to sell technologies to the listed companies, targeted a total of 27 entities, including 12 in China and two affiliated firms in Japan and Singapore. In addition to quantum computing, the list included companies in the semiconductor and aerospace industries, Home Garden USA.

Eight of the Chinese groups were specifically targeted to prevent them from accessing sensitive quantum-related technology, the US commerce department said, arguing they could help the PLA improve counter-stealth and counter-submarine applications and facilitate efforts to break US encryption.

The actions mark the latest effort by the Biden administration to make it more difficult for China to secure cutting-edge technologies with military applications. Last month, US intelligence officials warned American companies about Chinese efforts to access technology in areas including quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

“This is a sensible move and an important reminder of the scope and scale of China’s efforts to achieve technological breakthroughs that erode US national security,” said Martijn Rasser, a former CIA official who heads the technology and national security programme at the Center for a New American Security think-tank.

In addition to the Chinese groups targeted, Washington put 13 Pakistani firms on the “entity list” for activities related to nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. It added the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology to a “military end-user” list that makes it more difficult to sell technology with military applications.

“Today’s actions will help prevent the diversion of US technologies to the People’s Republic of China’s and Russia’s military advancement,” said Gina Raimondo, the US commerce secretary.

Earlier this year, the US put Phytium Technology on the “entity list” to prevent American technology being used to design semiconductors for Chinese supercomputers used to develop hypersonic weapons. The FT recently reported that China conducted a hypersonic weapons test in July that stunned the Pentagon, and raised fresh questions about how much US technology was being used to help the Chinese military.

The Chinese firms placed on the list include three affiliates of Corad Technology, which the US alleges has sold American technology to Iran, North Korea and groups connected to the PLA. The quantum companies include Shanghai QuantumCTek and Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the Microscale.

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