Russia Hammered by Export Controls, But China Gets a Pass

Roslyn Layton has a new column at Forbes illustrating some incoherence on the Commerce Department’s incoherent export control policy: This week Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo kicked off the first Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) conference since the pandemic by saying that export controls “are at the red-hot center of how we best protect our democracies” and that they “matter more than ever.” As part of sweeping efforts in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, BIS added 36 new parties to the Entity List for providing support to Russia’s military and/or defense industrial base in connection with the Ukraine invasion, including 25 companies based in China. Yet BIS has been slow to address dual use exports to China’s military, which is the… Read More

BIS Leader Previews New Civil Penalties for Export Control Violations

The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS) Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement, Matthew Axelrod, sounded all the right notes at a speech to the Society for International Affairs on May 16th. Recognizing that adversaries like Russia and China advance their own interests at the expense of the United States, Axelrod previewed strengthened civil penalties from BIS designed to deter American firms from violating export control laws. The proposed new penalties include: BIS publicly disclosing which companies it investigates for export control violations when a case opens, not when it is resolved, often years later Forcing companies to admit wrongdoing if they are found to have violated export control laws Increasing financial penalties for violations These ideas are welcome… Read More

Is BIS Edging Closer to Putting YMTC on the Entity List?

Is BIS Edging Closer to Putting YMTC on the Entity List? The Information reports that the U.S. Department of Commerce is weighing restrictions on the sale of semiconductor manufacturing equipment (SME) to YMTC, China’s national champion semiconductor manufacturer known to have close ties with the Chinese military. These restrictions, which would also reportedly apply to other state-backed firms such as Hua Hong Semiconductor and ChangXin Memory Technologies, would deal a blow to YMTC’s ability to produce chips, and secure a victory for American national security. The rules, which reportedly take months to develop, would echo the decision the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) made in 2020 to place China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation on the Entity List… Read More

CTT Quick Cut: BIS Is at an “Inflection Point,” Should “Rebalance Economics and Security”

Last week Congress confirmed Alan Estevez to serve as Undersecretary of Commerce for Industry and Security, finally filling the top post at the “most important agency most Americans have never heard of.” Mr. Estevez’s confirmation comes at a critical juncture, and he inherits a full slate of issues to address. China Tech Threat Co-Founder Dr. Roslyn Layton was joined by Kevin Wolf, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Administration, and Dr. Derek Scissors, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, for the latest CTT Quick Cut, “Competing Views on the Future of BIS,” where Mr. Estevez and the agency’s priorities were the focus of discussion. Setting an Agenda at BIS Mr. Estevez needs to take the lead on setting… Read More

#VoteEstevezNow: Our Adversaries Benefit from the Senate’s Delay

As the crisis in Ukraine continues, more eyes are turning towards China. Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported that Russia is seeking military equipment and aid from China. Eric Sayers, a former advisor to the U.S. Indo Pacific Command, is quoted by The Post as saying, “If Beijing is offering any type of military assistance to aid Moscow’s war in Ukraine, the spillover effects on U.S.-China policy could be vast.” Sayers added, “It would abruptly end debate about pathways to working with Beijing. More importantly, it would push Washington to accelerate retaliatory and decoupling actions toward China, and create new pressure on companies now doing business in China.” Companies like Lam Research, Applied Materials, and KLA Corporation – semiconductor… Read More

6 States Hacked by China: Register To Learn More About the Federal-State Tech Threat Disconnect 

Register now to join China Tech Threat’s webinar tomorrow, Tech Threat Disconnect: Federal-State Security Gaps Open Doors to PRC Intrusion. With a breaking AP report that the Chinese government broke into the computer networks of at least six state governments in the United States in the last year, learn more about how the use of Chinese technology by state ​​financial institutions, government agencies, infrastructure and individuals opens the door to attack by the People’s Republic of China (PRC). According to private cybersecurity firm Mandiant, which revealed the news, the suspected hackers are known for launching attacks for old-fashioned espionage purposes and for financial gain. When Federal agencies and the U.S. military have rightly taken action to restrict the use of… Read More

The Clock is Ticking: #VoteEstevezNow

This week China Tech Threat (CTT) launched a new campaign around the urgency for the Senate to confirm the next Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). It has been five years since the last confirmed BIS Director and seven months since President Biden nominated Alan Estevez, a national security veteran, to take the post. We’ve written extensively about the importance of BIS, calling it the most important agency most Americans have never heard of. Tasked with ensuring an effective export control system to promote America’s strategic technology leadership, the agency and its leaders play an important role in the U.S. government’s response to China’s unabashed ambition to dominate semiconductor and other critical technology… Read More

Next Week: “Give Alan Estevez Up-or-Down Vote” Special Series

More than seven months after President Biden nominated Alan Estevez to serve as Undersecretary for Industry and Security, Mr. Estevez has yet to receive a confirmation vote in Congress. Next week China Tech Threat is launching a new special series, Give Alan Estevez an Up-or-Down Vote, meant to track the time this important post has been unfilled and highlight vulnerabilities the vacancy creates. The White House and Congress roundly agree that China’s ambitions to dominate emerging technology markets pose a serious threat to U.S. economic and national security interests. “If there’s any subject that unifies the most conservative Republican and the most liberal Democrat, it’s a deep skepticism of China and a motivation to ensure U.S. economic competitiveness,” CNBC reported… Read More

Coming Next Week: CTT’s Third Installation in Our Policy Recommendation Series for Incoming BIS Leaders

The third policy recommendation from China Tech Threat to help leaders at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) prevent adversaries from acquiring and weaponizing sensitive U.S.-made technologies, will be launched next week. This recommendation will reinforce a continued need for policymakers to strengthen the U.S. export control regime to better prevent American semiconductor manufacturing equipment (SME) from being sold to and exploited by the Chinese government and Chinese-operated entities.  “Semiconductors are part of China’s national strategy,” Nazak Nikakhtar, former Assistant Secretary for Industry and Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration said during a recent China Tech Threat event. “The transfer of semiconductor technology from the United States to China is what… Read More

Biden Expected to Tap Alan Estevez to Lead BIS

News outlets report today that President Joe Biden will nominate Alan Estevez to lead the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). This is a critical and timely appointment as U.S.-China tensions continue to escalate. Mr. Estevez—who served as U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and as the DoD representative to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)—brings more than three decades of experience in defense technology procurement and supply chain security. That expertise provides an ideal background to head the agency charged with protecting U.S. strategic technological advantages. President Biden’s nomination signals the Administration’s commitment to upholding the United States’ strategic security and suggests the President will direct the BIS… Read More