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Beijing allows US export control checks on Chinese tech firms

The Biden administration says Beijing has relentlessly allowed U.S. inspections of Chinese companies, and says many companies face deadlines to cooperate by this week or risk being placed on a trade blacklist. .

Alan Estevez, U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce for Industry and Security, said China began allowing U.S. officials to inspect some Chinese companies after Washington recently introduced tougher semiconductor export controls.

Estevez has been since the Trump administration refused to allow U.S. officials to conduct end-use checks to ensure that U.S. technology is not being diverted to unauthorized activities such as making weapons. , China’s Ministry of Commerce said it has become more receptive since Washington imposed it. control in October.

At the time, 31 Chinese companies, including memory chip maker YMTC, were put on an “unverified list” to allow end-use checks or face the possibility of being added to a trade blacklist called the trade blacklist. We have set a 60-day clock on the companies we face. An “Entity List” that effectively bans US companies from providing technology.

Speaking Tuesday at the Institute for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank in Washington, Estevez said there were signs that China’s Ministry of Commerce was responding positively. -compliance.

“We are seeing better behavior. Mofcom is more proactive,” Estevez said, referring to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

But Estevez cautioned that it’s too early to draw broader conclusions about whether China has really changed. Beijing has so far been more open to end-use checks before reversing course. “We are seeing a shift in attitudes,” he said. “It’s not the first time we’ve seen a change in attitude like this, so it depends on how long it lasts.”

In November, the Chinese government approved visits by U.S. officials to businesses in several cities in Wuhan, Shanghai and Guangdong, according to four government officials with direct knowledge of the matter. The decision comes after the semiconductor industry and local authorities filed a series of petitions over the widespread impact of the latest export controls.

“It’s the industry’s unanimous response to the US ban that Beijing is starting to waver over whether the confrontation with the US over semiconductors should continue to escalate,” said a Shenzhen tech hub expert on the matter. a senior government official said. “Against such a macroeconomic downturn, if geopolitical influences continue to permeate, it will not benefit China’s semiconductor chain.”

Unilateral U.S. export controls are designed to make it much more difficult for China to obtain advanced semiconductors and develop the technology and tools needed to produce high-end chips. These chips can be used for military applications, from modeling nuclear weapons to developing and testing hypersonic weapons.

Washington has engaged Japan and the Netherlands in discussions to create a trilateral export control regime that would impose restrictions on exports of chip-making tools. The export controls Washington imposed on his Oct. 7 barred U.S. tool makers from exporting advanced technology to China, but they weren’t aimed at non-U.S. companies.

Estevez and the White House’s top national security officer for export control, Tarun Chabra, traveled to the Netherlands last month to try to make progress on the deal. Estevez on Tuesday declined to discuss the content of recent talks, but he expressed his confidence that the United States would reach a deal with allies.

“We are having a good discussion,” he said. “I don’t think any other country would say, ‘Hey, come to America and let America dictate our policies and plans.’ But… these countries and allies share our values.” doing.”

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