U.S. tightens tech export restrictions to China, Russia, Venezuela

by WorldTribune Staff, April 27, 2020

The Trump administration announced on April 27 new export control actions aimed at preventing efforts by entities in China, Russia, and Venezuela from acquiring U.S. technology for commercial purposes and then diverting the technology for military use.

The Department of Commerce said in a press release that the restrictions are on technology that could be used for “weapons, military aircraft, or surveillance technology through civilian supply chains, or under civilian-use pretenses, for military end uses and military end-users.”

Since “the Chinese have said to us, ‘anything you give to us for a commercial purpose is going to be given to the military,’ what point is there in maintaining a distinction in our export control regulations?” said former White House official Tim Morrison, who was involved in drawing up the changes, which have been in the works since at least last year.

Specifically, the rule changes include:

• Expansion of Military End Use/User Controls (MEU).

• Expands MEU license requirements controls on China, Russia, and Venezuela to cover military end-users in all three countries, as well as items such as semiconductor equipment, sensors, and other technologies sought for military end use or by military end-users in these countries.

• Removal of License Exception Civil End Users (CIV).

• Removes a license exception for exports, re-exports, or transfers (in-country) to civilian end-users in countries of national security concern for National Security- (NS) controlled items.

• Elimination of License Exception Additional Permissive Reexports (APR) Provisions.

• Proposes to eliminate certain provisions of a license exception for partner countries involving the reexport of NS-controlled items to countries of national security concern to ensure consistent reviews of exports and reexports of U.S. items.

“It is important to consider the ramifications of doing business with countries that have histories of diverting goods purchased from U.S. companies for military applications,” said Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “Certain entities in China, Russia, and Venezuela have sought to circumvent America’s export controls, and undermine American interests in general, and so we will remain vigilant to ensure U.S. technology does not get into the wrong hands.”

The Trump administration has taken a much different tack than its predecessor when it comes to the China threat. U.S. officials are increasingly concerned over the Chinese Communist Party’s “civil-military” fusion promoted by supreme leader Xi Jinping, which aims to build up its military might and super-charged technological development in tandem.

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) in the Department of Commerce is responsible for overseeing the export control activities.

BIS’s “mission is to advance U.S. national security and foreign policy objectives by ensuring an effective export control and treaty compliance system and promoting continued U.S. strategic technology leadership,” the Commerce Department press release said. “BIS is committed to restrict U.S.-origin commodities and technology from use in support of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) projects, terrorism, or destabilizing military modernization programs.”

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