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US blacklists top Chinese chipmaker, alleging military ties

Paul Wiseman
Associated Press

Washington – The Trump administration blacklisted China’s top chipmaker Friday, limiting the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.’s access to advanced U.S. technology because of its alleged ties to the Chinese military.

“We will not allow advanced U.S. technology to help build the military of an increasingly belligerent adversary,’’ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement explaining the decision to put SMIC on the U.S. government’s so-called Entity List.

SMIC has previously said it has no ties to the Chinese government.

In this Tuesday, March 10, 2020, file photo, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testifies before a House Appropriations subcommittee on Capitol Hill, in Washington.

Commerce is putting more than 60 other firms on the list for such things as allegedly supporting the Chinese military, assisting the Chinese government’s crackdown on dissent, being involved in the theft of trade secrets and helping Beijing’s aggressive efforts to claim territory in the South China Sea. Among them is Chinese dronemaker DJI, sanctioned for allegedly helping the Chinese government conduct surveillance on its own citizens.

But SMIC is the most high-profile target.

The move means that U.S. companies will need to get a license to sell sophisticated technology to SMIC. Technology that helps with the production of the most-advanced chips – those 10 nanometers or smaller – face the “presumption of denial,’’ Commerce said. Other items will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The decision comes barely a month before President-elect Joe Biden takes office. A senior Commerce Department official, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said the move had not been coordinated with the Biden transition team.