White House Reveals New Restrictions on China

(LibertyInsider.org) — The White House has taken a decisive step to curb China’s potential military prowess by unveiling a comprehensive set of restrictions on the sale and export of key computer components to the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Aimed squarely at slowing down research into AI and advanced computing, the new regulations are poised to take effect in just under a month.

The newly minted regulations completely blacklist Chinese chipmakers Moore Threads and Biren. They also heavily restrict semiconductor sales to 21 other nations currently under arms embargoes, such as Cuba, Iran, and Russia. The government has raised concerns not only about how these locations might use semiconductors but also how likely they are to assist China by diverting restricted products on their behalf.

These actions continue the Biden administration’s previous crackdown on Nvidia H100 chips in October 2022. Chinese companies bypassed the rules by purchasing H800 or A800 series chips. Nvidia slightly modified both models in ways that allowed buyers to skirt the regulations. This year’s update closes that gap by adding variants to the list of restricted items, as Nvidia acknowledged in a recent SEC filing.

The goal of the BIS’s restrictions is to block China’s efforts in military technology advancement. While AI is more of a focus than ever right now, mostly because of the popularity of Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT, it isn’t even close to the only concern. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) research and development into hypersonic missiles and other weapons of mass destruction also represents a potential national security threat.

Preserving national security and avoiding weakening US defenses is undoubtedly important. However, some semiconductor companies and China have expressed criticism about the changes and how they might affect their ability to operate.

In an emailed statement from October 18, Nvidia initially appeared to dismiss the idea that the restriction might impact their bottom line. It acknowledged that the changes would affect the timeliness of production and servicing out-of-region customers.

China’s foreign ministry also lashed out against the US government during an exchange with Reuters on October 18. It said the changes “violate the principles of the market economy and fair competition.”

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