The tech front: America against China's supercomputers 

The U.S. Department of Commerce announced the addition of seven supercomputer entities to its economic blacklist.  Secretary Raimondo: supercomputing capabilities are vital for developing weapons and national security systems, and that the department will prevent China from leveraging U.S. technologies for those efforts  

The supercomputer in Wuxi is presented for the first time in 2017. Photo: Reuters

The U.S.  Department of Commerce announced last weekend the immediate addition of seven Chinese supercomputer entities to its "Entity List" (economic blacklist), for their involvement "with building supercomputers used by China’s military actors, its destabilizing military modernization efforts, and/or weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs," according to the official statement. The entities join five others included in the list in 2019, under the Trump administration.  

"Supercomputing capabilities are vital for the development of many – perhaps almost all – modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons," said Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo. "The Department of Commerce will use the full extent of its authorities to prevent China from leveraging U.S. technologies to support these destabilizing military modernization efforts."

Among the companies added are the National Supercomputer Centers in Shenzhen, Zhengzhou and Wuxi, and the Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, said in response to the American decision that Beijing will take "necessary measures" to protect its companies’ rights and interests, and that "U.S. containment and suppression cannot hold back the march of China’s scientific and technological development."

According to the official explanation provided by the Department of Commerce, the "Entity List" is a tool utilized by its Bureau of Industry and Security to restrict the export, re-export, and in-country transfer of items subject to the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) to individuals, companies or organizations reasonably believed to be involved, have been involved, or pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved, in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States. 

The supply of these items requires special licenses that are limited in availability and subject to strict checks. In simple terms, it will now be much more difficult for China to engage in trade with American companies manufacturing items that are critical for the continued development of supercomputers.  

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