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International relations

U.S. puts Chinese firms helping military on trade blacklist

Commerce Department cites quantum computing applications by several companies

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo   © Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. government put a dozen Chinese companies on its trade blacklist on Wednesday for national security and foreign policy concerns, citing in some cases their help developing the Chinese military's quantum computing efforts.

The government also said several entities and individuals from China and Pakistan were added to the Commerce Department's Entity List for contributing to Pakistan's nuclear activities or ballistic missile program.

The latest U.S. action on Chinese companies comes amid growing tensions between Beijing and Washington over the status of Taiwan and trade issues.

In total, 27 new entities were added to the list from China, Japan, Pakistan, and Singapore.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a statement that the new listings will help prevent U.S. technology from supporting the development of Chinese and Russian "military advancement and activities of non-proliferation concern like Pakistan's unsafeguarded nuclear activities or ballistic missile program."

China's embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Commerce Department said Hangzhou Zhongke Microelectronics, Hunan Goke Microelectronics, New H3C Semiconductor Technologies, Xi'an Aerospace Huaxun Technology and Yunchip Microelectronics were placed on the Commerce Department's entity list for their "support of the military modernization of the People's Liberation Army."

It also added Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale, QuantumCTek and Shanghai QuantumCTeck to the list for "acquiring and attempting to acquire U.S.-origin items in support of military applications."

The eight Chinese firms were listed to prevent U.S. technology being used to help China develop quantum computing applications for its military.

The Commerce Department wants to stop the Chinese military from developing its counter-stealth technology, which could include equipment like advanced radars, and counter-submarine applications such as undersea sensors. The action also blocks U.S. material from being used to help China break encryption or develop unbreakable encryption, the Commerce Department said.

Suppliers to companies on the entity list will need to apply for a license before they can sell to them, which is likely to be denied.

Separately, the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology was added to the Commerce Department's military end user list, but the listing did not provide additional information other than it had produced military products.

The entity list has increasingly been used for national security and foreign policy aims since the Trump administration. Chinese telecom company Huawei was added in 2019, cutting it off from some key suppliers and making it difficult for them to produce mobile handsets.

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