- The US added seven China supercomputer entities to its economic blacklist.
- China is using supercomputers to speed up the development of hypersonic (unstoppable) missiles.
- The US is in a global arms race with China and Russia to build the most advanced hypersonic missile.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The Biden administration is taking steps to undermine China’s effort to build the world’s fastest supercomputer necessary for the development of advanced weapons – including nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles.
Seven Chinese firms and government labs were placed under export controls by the Biden administration on Thursday due to their ties to China’s supercomputer development in relation to national security concerns. This means they will not be able to use technology that originated in the US without a Commerce Department license.
“These are parties that are acting in ways that are contrary to our national security interests,” a senior Commerce Department official told the Washington Post. “This is really about not having US items contribute to China’s advancement of its military capabilities.”
The firms and labs impacted include: Tianjin Phytium Information Technology (also known as Phytium), Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics, the National Supercomputing Center Jinan, the National Supercomputing Center Shenzhen, the National Supercomputing Center Wuxi, and the National Supercomputing Center Zhengzhou.
The supercomputer at China’s largest aerodynamics research complex, where hypersonics weapons research is underway, has used Phytium microprocessors, according to the Post. Phytium works with American software design companies, the Post said, and it will now have to get a license that’s difficult to obtain in order to keep doing business with the Chinese firm.
The US is in a global arms race with China and Russia to build hypersonic missiles, which are capable of traveling at least five times the speed of sound and designed to be virtually unstoppable. Hypersonic missiles are made to be both extraodinarily fast and maneuverable in order to evade all existing missile defense systems. Supercomputers able of rapidly performing complex calculations aid in the development of such advanced weapons.
China wants to build the first exascale computer, capable of a million trillion calculations per second, which would give it a major advantage in the race to build the most advanced hypersonic missile.
“Supercomputing capabilities are vital for the development of many – perhaps almost all – modern weapons and national security systems, such as nuclear weapons and hypersonic weapons,” Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in a statement regarding the Biden administration’s economic blacklisting of the seven Chinese supercomputer entitites.
“The Department of Commerce will use the full extent of its authorities to prevent China from leveraging US technologies to support these destabilizing military modernization efforts,” Raimondo added.
President Joe Biden has made competing with China a top foreign policy priority, which has included an emphasis on investing in research and development to counter the China’s advancements in technology and infrastructure. During a speech on his $2 trillion infrastructure proposal on Thusday, Biden warned that China is “racing ahead” of the US.
“Do you think China is waiting around to invest in its digital infrastructure or research and development? I promise you, they are not waiting,” Biden said. “But they are counting on American democracy to be too slow, too limited, and too divided to keep up the pace.”