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Expect more China-related tech crackdowns, U.S. official says

Biden administration is ‘not done’ considering curbs on exports to China, according to a Commerce Department undersecretary

Weeks after enacting the strictest curbs yet on technology exports to China, the U.S. official overseeing the measures suggested they could soon get tougher, as his team pursues support from allied nations and considers additional technology to regulate.

The remarks from Alan Estevez, Commerce Department undersecretary for industry and security, come as semiconductor companiesfrom the United States and other Western nations continue cutting or suspending lucrative trade with China — often their biggest export market — to comply with new restrictions aimed at depriving Beijing of computer chips for its military.

The U.S. goal is not to bring about the “economic destruction of China” or a full decoupling of trade, Estevez told a briefing at the Center for a New American Security. But he said the Biden administration is “not done” considering additional technology exports to regulate.

I also keep getting asked ‘When will that China review be done?’ And that China review will be done when the Chinese change their behavior,” Estevez said. “So we are going to continue to look at not just what we did with semiconductors, but other areas that the Chinese are using to threaten the United States and its allies.”

Western suppliers cut ties with Chinese chipmakers as U.S. curbs bite

Areas “on my radar” for possible additional export controls, Estevez said, include quantum computing, biotechnology and artificial intelligence.

The latest rules, enacted Oct. 7, restrict sales to China of advanced computer chips and the equipment needed to manufacture them. Estevez said the administration is close to getting allies to join the restrictions, which would further cut China’s access to Western technology.

“It’s not just me, it’s the national security adviser, the secretary of Commerce are all on the phone working this,” he said. “So we expect to have a deal done in the near term.”

The restrictions are causing a major hit to U.S. tech companies, which have come to rely on China as a major export market. KLA Corp., a California-based company that sells chip-manufacturing equipment, this week said the restrictions could deprive it of $600 million to $900 million of revenue next year.

In recent days, another big equipment supplier, the Dutch company ASML, told its U.S. employees to stop installing or servicing equipment at any Chinese chip factory while it sorts through the new rules. And Applied Materials said the export restrictions will prevent it from completing sales of roughly $400 million in the fourth quarter.