The Biden administration is mulling further export controls that would clamp down on China’s ability to gain access to cutting-edge technologies and expects to soon secure a deal for allies to issue their own restrictions on selling such goods to China, a senior Biden administration official said on Thursday.
Those steps would broaden the impact of the sweeping limits the Biden administration announced this month on the sale of semiconductor technology to China. The United States imposed extensive restrictions on the sale of advanced computing chips, chip-making equipment and related products to China, saying that Beijing had used these goods to develop advanced weapons and surveillance systems that ran counter to U.S. national security interests.
In an event at the Center for a New American Security, a Washington think tank, Alan F. Estevez, the under secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security who oversees U.S. export controls, said the measures were motivated purely by the need to protect U.S. national security, not a desire to limit China’s economic development. He said that his department would enforce the restrictions to their fullest extent, including applying civil and criminal penalties to companies that try to contravene the rules.
When asked if the United States would consider further controls in quantum information science, biotechnology, artificial intelligence software or advanced algorithms, Mr. Estevez said that he was meeting with his staff weekly to discuss such restrictions.
“Will we end up doing something in those areas? If I was a betting person I would put down money on that,” Mr. Estevez said.
Mr. Estevez, who described himself as the chief technology protection officer of the United States, also said that the administration was working to convince allies that play an important role in the semiconductor supply chain, like the Netherlands and Japan, to issue their own restrictions on Chinese technology.
The Biden administration had spent months in discussions with allies, including the Dutch, Japanese, South Korean, Israeli and British governments, trying to persuade some of them to issue restrictions alongside the United States. But some were hesitant to cut off important commerce with China, and when the United States announced its restrictions in October, it acted alone.
Mr. Estevez said that U.S. allies understood the national security threat posed by China. Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, and Gina Raimondo, the secretary of commerce, had been negotiating with allies by phone, Mr. Estevez said, adding, “We expect to have a deal done in the near term.”
The topic is likely to be up for discussion at the next meeting of the Trade and Technology Council, a forum set up by the United States and European Union to address global trade and technology challenges. The council is expected to next meet in the United States before the end of the year.
In a briefing with reporters on Thursday, Wang Hongxia, a commercial affairs officer with the Chinese Embassy in Washington, said that the United States had abused export control measures with its restrictions on Chinese semiconductors and “politicized and weaponized” normal business cooperation between China and the United States.
U.S. policies toward China had led to huge losses for businesses and consumers in both countries, Ms. Wang said.