The U.S. Department of Commerce has placed several quantum computing entities from China into its Entity List preventing them from access to quantum technologies developed in the U.S. Quantum computing technologies could be used to modernize capabilities of the People's Liberation Army as well as facilitate the decryption of U.S. encryption technologies. In addition, the DoC blacklisted 19 entitles from Pakistan, Japan, Singapore, and Russia.
In recent years Chinese researchers have made quite a number of quantum computing breakthroughs, which could provide the country and the PLA with the capability to build counter-stealth and counter-submarine applications, to break U.S. encryption technologies and/or develop unbreakable encryption. The U.S. believes that such capabilities contradict with the country's national security and foreign policy interests, which is why it added Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale, QuantumCTek, and Shanghai QuantumCTek to the Entity List.
Quantum computing is a relatively new technology that promises to increase the performance of computers by orders of magnitude. Along with performance come new applications that computers can be used for, so getting these technologies into the hands of potentially hostile nations is clearly not in the U.S. interest.
But many of China's quantum computing efforts have been enabled by technologies and machinery made in the USA. Requiring American companies to obtain export licenses (which will be denied in most cases) in order to sell their products to certain entities. This may be an efficient instrument for the U.S. government to at least slowdown development of Chinese quantum computing capabilities.
"This is a sensible move and an important reminder of the scope and scale of China’s efforts to achieve technological breakthroughs that erode U.S. national security,” Martijn Rasser, a former CIA official who heads the technology and national security programme at the Center for a New American Security think-tank, told Financial Times.
In addition to the Chinese entities, the U.S. blacklisted 13 companies from Pakistan that contributed to the country's unsafeguarded nuclear activities and ballistic missile programs. Also, it put the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology to the Entity List since the organization develops military end-use products.
"Today's actions will help prevent the diversion of U.S. technologies to the PRC's and Russia's military advancement and activities of non-proliferation concern like Pakistan's unsafeguarded nuclear activities or ballistic missile program," said Gina M. Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Commerce. "The Department of Commerce is committed to effectively using export controls to protect our national security."
Along with three Chinese quantum computing entities, the U.S. DoC put several aerospace and semiconductor companies into the Entity List as they assisted China or Pakistani military efforts. In total, there are 12 new Chinese companies (and two of their subsidiaries in Japan and Singapore) in the Entity List:
- Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at Microscale
- Shanghai QuantumCTek
- Xi'an Aerospace Huaxun Technology
- Peaktek Company
- Poly Asia Pacific
- Shaanxi Zhi En Electromechanical Technology
- Corad Technology (Shenzhen, Singapore, Japan)
- Hangzhou Zhongke Microelectronics
- New H3C Semiconductor Technologies
- Hunan Goke Microelectronics
- Yunchip Microelectronics
China claims that the U.S. exercises its ability to blacklist Chinese companies due to political and economical, but not national security reasons.
"The US has repeatedly generalized the concept of national security and cracked down on Chinese companies by abusing its state power," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian, reports GlobalTimes. "The action has seriously hurt Chinese firms' interests, broken the international order and free trade rules, as well as seriously threatened the global industry and supply chains."