US – Government blacklists seven Chinese supercomputer manufacturers15. April 2021
US – Government blacklists seven Chinese supercomputer manufacturers
Citing national security concerns, the U.S. has placed seven Chinese companies that build supercomputers on its sanctions list. They must now obtain a license from the Commerce Department to trade with U.S. companies.
The Commerce Department justified its action on the grounds that the companies build supercomputers used by China’s “military actors, its destabilizing military modernization efforts, and/or weapons of mass destruction programs.”
China is reportedly using supercomputers to accelerate the development of hypersonic missiles that can reach speeds of at least five times the speed of sound and are virtually unstoppable. The U.S. and Russia are pursuing similar efforts as part of a global arms race.
Supercomputing capabilities are also essential to the development of nuclear weapons and “many – perhaps almost all – modern weapons and national security systems,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said.
While the sanctions will cut off U.S. supplies of hardware for China to further develop computers, some experts say the measures will have a limited impact.
The affected companies are Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics and four National Supercomputing Centers (NSCCs) in Jinan, Shenzhen, Wuxi and Zhengzhou.
The sanctions affect NSCC-Wuxim’s Sunway TaihuLight, the fourth-fastest supercomputer in the world. The fastest is Japan’s Fujitsu Fugaku, with a performance of 415 petaflops, followed by IBM’s Summit and Sierra, both in the United States.
Under the Trump administration, the U.S. blacklisted a handful of Chinese tech companies working in AI in 2019, including SenseTime, Megvii and Yitu. That blacklist is still in effect.