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The US Department of Commerce has announced that it is imposing sanctions on seven Chinese supercomputer manufacturers. The manufacturers will be on the list of companies that may be involved with the Chinese military.

According to the Department, the companies are “involved with building supercomputers used by China’s military actors, its destabilizing military modernization efforts, and/or weapons of mass destruction programs”, writes Reuters.

Supercomputers are vital for weapons development

In a statement, Secretary Gina Raimondo said that supercomputers are vital for the development of virtually all modern weapons and defence systems, such as nuclear and hypersonic weapons. The new rules take effect immediately but do not apply to goods from US suppliers that are already being shipped.

The companies in question are Tianjin Phytium Information Technology, Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center, Sunway Microelectronics, the National Supercomputing Center Jinan, the National Supercomputing Center Shenzhen, the National Supercomputing Center Wuxi and the National Supercomputing Center Zhengzhou.

China will take necessary measures

A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said Beijing would take the necessary measures to protect the rights and interests of the companies. “US containment and suppression cannot hold back the march of China’s scientific and technological development,” the spokesman said.

Several large Chinese companies on the blacklist

The United States’ tough stance on China began during Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump made eager use of the list of companies working with the Chinese military. American companies that want to cooperate with companies on this list must first get a difficult-to-obtain licence.

One of the biggest companies to end up on the list is electronics giant Huawei. This company is having a tough time due to trade restrictions and has had to split off part of its smartphone offering. Other Chinese companies on the list are chip manufacturer SMIC and drone maker DJI.