WASHINGTON: The Trump administration blacklisted China’s top chipmaker Friday, limiting the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.’s access to advanced US technology because of its alleged ties to the Chinese military.
“We will not allow advanced US technology to help build the military of an increasingly belligerent adversary,’’ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement explaining the decision to put SMIC on the US government’s so-called Entity List.
SMIC has previously said it has no ties to the Chinese government.
Commerce is putting more than 60 other firms on the list for such things as allegedly supporting the Chinese military, assisting the Chinese government’s crackdown on dissent, being involved in the theft of trade secrets and helping Beijing’s aggressive efforts to claim territory in the South China Sea.
But SMIC is the most high-profile target.
The move means that US companies will need to get a license to sell sophisticated technology to SMIC. Technology that helps with the production of the most-advanced chips — those 10 nanometers or smaller — face the “presumption of denial,” Commerce said. Other items will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The decision comes barely a month before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. A senior Commerce Department official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said the move had not been coordinated with the Biden transition team.
Earlier, China’s State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the US should choose dialogue and consultation with China instead of pursuing “unacceptable” unilateral sanctions against Chinese companies.
Wang, in a special address to the Asia Society that focused mainly on the state of Sino-US relations, urged the US to stop “overstretching the notion of national security” and “arbitrary suppression of Chinese companies.”
“We need to replace sanctions with dialogue and consultation,” he said, adding that unilateral sanctions had become the “biggest destabilizing factor to regional and global security.”
“China is not a threat to the US — was not, is not and will not be a threat,” Wang said, yet relations were at their lowest ebb since the establishment of full diplomatic ties in 1979.
Likening Sino-US relations to a “giant vessel,” Wang said the interests of the whole world were at stake. “I think we all agree the time has come to decide the future course of this vessel,” he said, calling for US policy toward China to “return to objectivity and sensibility as early as possible.”
Beijing has taken note of the four policy priorities of Biden, who is set to take office on Jan. 20, Wang added, and believes at least three of them — COVID-19 response, economic recovery and climate change — provide room for cooperation between the two countries.