Biden Administration’s Year End Push To Crack Down On China Tech Threats

As 2021 draws to a close, the Biden Administration appears to be making a push to crack down on U.S. trade with Chinese tech companies that only support the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and its enhancement of military capabilities that directly threaten our national and economic security. China Tech Threat is encouraged by these developments and hopes they are just the start to a more aggressive 2022.

On December 17, National Security Council (NSC) Officials met with deputies from various U.S. agencies to review a proposal to toughen restrictions on China’s largest chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC). The meeting is an encouraging development an CTT noted in a blog that SMIC isn’t the only Chinese chipmaker that should be reviewed. Like SMIC, Yangtze Memory Technologies (YMTC) and ChangXin Memory Technologies (CXMT) both have ties to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and should be added by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to the Entity List.

On the same day, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced the world’s largest drone maker DJI is being added to the investment blacklist. The announcement cites the company as part of the Chinese Military-Industrial Complex and its role in tracking and surveilling religious minorities in China, particularly the Uyghur population in Xinjiang.  On an October panel with China Tech Threat, FCC Commissioner Carr called DJI “Huawei on Wings” when announcing that the FCC will commence a process to add DJI to the agency’s “Covered List” of restricted equipment producers.

Carr welcomed the Treasury Department’s actions and used it as call for urgency stating, “Treasury’s determination that DJI is actively supporting the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to surveil and repress religious minorities in China only adds urgency to my call for national security agencies to provide their views on adding DJI to the FCC’s Covered List.”

National security attorney Jordan Brunner and Emily Weinstein with Georgetown’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET), had a keen focus on DJI as a threat writing in a CSET blog over the summer that “DJI is low-hanging fruit that should have been plucked by Treasury a lot sooner.”

Additionally, just before the U.S. Senate adjourned, it voted to confirm Matthew Axelrod to serve as assistant secretary for export enforcement at the U.S. Commerce Department, a position that has remained unfilled for five years until now. Combined with Alan Estevez’s nomination to head BIS as the first director with a national security and supply chain background, President Biden’s nominations signals an intensified approach to trade enforcement.