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New regs for US tech export to China now online

Protection or protectionism?

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Draft texts of the new US rules for export of technology to China are now available online. They will be officially published in the Federal Register this week.

The new "Final Rule", which will form the basis of US regulations in future, is available here (large, technical pdf). There is a Q&A, suitable for those familiar with the existing regs, here (pdf).

The rules are produced by the US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security. They establish new categories of items which could formerly be exported to the People's Republic, but now require a licence if "the exporter has knowledge...that such items are destined for 'military end-use'...in [China] or is informed that such items are destined for such an end-use".

Particular kinds of high-powered computers, lasers, specialist software* and so on are all on the list, added to more obvious kit such as tanks, missiles, night-vision goggles, etc. An earlier, broader list was cut back in the consultation stage after industry protests.

Some in the USA have argued that the cut-down controls are still overly restrictive, and will hurt American trade as other advanced countries step in to fulfil Chinese demands for advanced tech.

The London Financial Times quotes Donald Weadon and Carol Kalinoski, Washington-based export control consultants, as saying that the rule is "flawed". They also suggested that the rule would "anger the Chinese, our allies, and US industry at one time".

US legislators concerned about advanced technology making its way into threatening military-industrial complexes overseas have more than just their own industry's direct dealings to fret over, as many kinds of kit might be sold or resold by US-allied nations.

In particular the UK, a close chum of America, is often suspected of re-exporting key US tech which it has gained access to in collaborative military-industrial programmes. Add in the murky factor of US industrial protectionism against other high-tech nations (in both its own domestic and world export markets) and you have a fine, thick political stew.

The new US regs are described as "final", however, so this stage of the debate would seem to be over. ®

Bootnote

*Be especially wary if you're into near-real-time apps.

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