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Biden Admin To Unveil New Chip Controls Focused on China: REPORT

The Biden administration is poised to unveil additional computer chip sanctions targeting China as soon as next week, Axios reported Saturday.

The new export controls will shut loopholes in existing restrictions, reduce the export of equipment needed to manufacture sophisticated semiconductor chips, and they will align the U.S. with regulation packages implemented by the governments of Japan and the Netherlands, Axios reported, citing unnamed officials within the Biden administration. The Department of Commerce could unveil the new controls sometime early next week, ahead of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s highly-anticipated visit to Washington later in October.

The additional controls will expand upon the administration’s drive to prevent China from creating a clear military advantage in artificial intelligence (AI), according to Axios. The restrictions are intended to shut down workarounds on export controls already in place for highly-advanced computer chips and other high-technology equipment, and will reportedly be applied to computer chips that are marginally less sophisticated than the products covered by the existing controls.

Apart from the export restrictions imposed in October 2022, President Joe Biden enacted an August executive order that limits private sector investments in Chinese firms that are involved in the semiconductor chip, AI and quantum computing sectors, according to Axios. The report of forthcoming controls follows the administration’s decision to effectively grant an indefinite waiver to two key South Korean companies on Monday to use U.S. semiconductor production equipment in China.

The administration is reportedly “sensitive” about announcing any new moves that Beijing may not like ahead of Yi’s visit or other high-profile diplomatic missions, such as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to China in July, according to Axios.

Biden and his team of advisors are simultaneously attempting to prevent certain economic developments that may threaten U.S. national security with respect to China while also insisting that their attention is not to crimp or otherwise hurt the Chinese economy, according to Axios. The administration is preparing for Chinese President Xi Jinping to attend San Francisco’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in November, although neither nation has confirmed that Xi will be attending.

Tensions have increased between the U.S. and China in recent months, with Chinese state-affiliated hackers breaching the email accounts of State Department officials and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo over the summer months. In February, a Chinese spy balloon traversed the continental U.S. and floated over key military sites before Biden ultimately ordered it to be shot down off the coast of North Carolina.

Neither the White House nor the Department of Commerce responded immediately to requests for comment.

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