Reuters reports that Bill Hagerty and Tom Cotton said in a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo that they were “disappointed” because her agency was blocking efforts to tighten export controls on US technology destined for SMIC, which they claim has close ties to the Chinese military.

The senators wrote in a letter on Jan. 31 tightening the controls “would close an important loophole and prevent the China government and People’s Liberation Army from using US technology to advance their military modernization programs.” 

Trump imposed SMIC on the United States in late 2020. SMIC is on the Department of Commerce’s trade blocklist because it aids China’s military. Following SMIC’s block listing, US providers of highly specialized chip manufacturing equipment must apply for a special license and strict inspection criteria.

U.S. congressional committee stated that the regulations were given between November 2020 and April 2021, spanning the Trump and Biden administrations. However, according to documents released last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce authorized several export licenses for SMIC, allowing suppliers to export products valued at about 42 billion dollars. The export license enraged China’s hawkish politicians.

According to Reuters, Biden hasn’t decided whether to halt further U.S. chip manufacturing equipment supplies to SMIC, but he has broached the notion of talking to allies about it.

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