CTT Panel: U.S. Policymakers Should Focus on “Chokepoint Technologies”

During China Tech Threat’s “Unacceptable Risk: Expanding the FCC’s Covered List to Reflect Reality” forum Tuesday, participants roundly supported expanding the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) “Covered List.”

Panelists Colin Andrews (Telecommunications Industry Association – TIA), Jordan Brunner (national security attorney), Martijn Rasser (Center for New American Security – CNAS), and Emily Weinstein (Georgetown Center for Security and Emerging Technology – CSET) applauded Commissioner Brendan Carr’s call for the FCC to add Chinese drone maker DJI to the Covered List. Mr. Rasser called it a “very encouraging step” and, Mr. Brunner encouraged policymakers to not stop there.

There is a “very strong case” that YMTC, a top chipmaker in China with military ties, ought to be added as well, Mr. Rasser said.

“Fundamentally, we need to focus on where we have leverage—what are the chokepoint technologies,” he explained. “The Chinese have been very good at creating cutout companies and intermediaries [to circumvent U.S. export controls],” which creates a “game of whack-a-mole” that expends U.S. resources.

Ms. Weinstein agreed U.S. strategy must address organizing forces behind China’s Military-Civil Fusion Strategy, which can refocus national resources when a single state-operated entity is shut down by U.S. restrictions.

There are “good things” to restriction lists, Ms. Weinstein said. “But there are issues associated with these lists because China is so quick to adapt to them.”

Expanding the Covered List and tightening controls in “narrowly targeted areas” would encourage competition in the marketplace, Mr. Andrews said. “TIA members are the trusted core of the U.S. supply chain… By taking lead, the FCC will allow the [information and communications technology] ICT community to counter anti-competitive actions.”