Two new rules announced by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) strive to severely inhibit China’s progress in indigenously producing advanced semiconductors. Although advanced semiconductors are widely used for commercial applications, BIS cited serious concerns regarding China’s use of the technology for WMD and military applications, and enabling human rights violations or abuses.
BIS’ announcement follows remarks in September by the U.S. National Security Advisor signaling a shift in the U.S. export control strategy from one of maintaining a “relative” advantage over competitors in certain key technologies, to maintaining “as large a lead as possible.” It remains to be seen if U.S. allies key to the semiconductor supply chain will impose similar export restrictions on transfers to China. Following the announcement of the rules, BIS officials have underscored the importance of multilateral adoption of the new currently unilateral controls, describing engagement with allies as a “priority” for BIS.
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