Biden pokes the Dragon by tightening screw on Chinese access to technology

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The Biden administration is exploring the possibility of new export controls that would limit China’s access to some of the most powerful emerging computing technologies, according to people familiar with the situation, says the South China Morning Post.

The potential plans, which are in an early stage, are focused on the still-experimental field of quantum computing, as well as artificial intelligence software, according to the people, who asked not to be named discussing private deliberations. Industry experts are weighing in on how to set the parameters of the restrictions on this nascent technology, they said.

The efforts, if implemented, would follow separate restrictions announced earlier this month aimed at stunting Beijing’s ability to deploy cutting-edge semiconductors in weapons and surveillance systems. This delivered a painful blow to Xi’s ambitions to rival the U.S., delivered at the very moment when the Chinese leader has reached the pinnacle of his political influence. While a show of technical and commercial force could be welcomed, everything rides on Xi’s interpretation of Biden’s willingness to see this fight through to the end.

The US has ramped up actions to stifle China’s ability to develop certain technologies that it sees as key in the competition with its top strategic rival. The sweeping regulations released earlier this month also limited how US citizens and residents participate in Chinese tech firms. The administration’s announcement of high-technology export controls to China represent a profound policy shift, a step to blunt Beijing’s sharpest tools—and a willingness to risk it alone, if necessary.