US President Joe Biden has declared a national emergency over China's possible use of artificial intelligence (AI), semiconductors and quantum computing to threaten the country's national security, announcing restrictions and even bans on transactions with such companies.
"I believe that the countries in question (referring to China) are engaged in a broad and long-standing strategy that directs, facilitates, or supports advances in sensitive technologies and products that are critical to the military, intelligence, surveillance, or cyber capabilities of other countries," he said in a White House statement.
“Moreover, these countries remove barriers between the civilian and commercial sectors with the defence industrial and military sectors, not only through research and development, but by acquiring and diverting the world's cutting-edge technologies for the purpose of military dominance," Biden added.
In this sense, he explained that "rapid advances" in semiconductors, microelectronics, AI and quantum information technologies allow China to improve its ability to "threaten" the national security of the United States, as they would allow the creation of new and sophisticated weapons to destroy cryptographic codes and other types of applications that would give it a military advantage, and whose development it manages to exploit thanks to certain US investments.
That is why he has announced serious restrictions on trade and investments in China or related to its companies that develop the aforementioned technologies, regulations that will include making transactions notifiable or even banning them.
The US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, will have to discuss the measures with Congress, the Department of Commerce, the State Department, the Department of Energy and the intelligence services in order to make the regulations, which are due to be presented next year, more concrete.
China, for its part, has expressed its "dissatisfaction" with the restrictions announced by Biden, which it described as "economic coercion" and "technological harassment".
"Under the pretext of national security, the US restricts US companies' investment in China and engages in pan-security and pan-politicisation. Its real purpose is to deprive China of its right to development and safeguard its own hegemony and self-interest," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said at a press conference.
"This is pure economic coercion and technological harassment. The US move has seriously violated the principles of market economy and fair competition, seriously disrupted the international economic and trade order, seriously disturbed the stability of global industrial and supply chains, and seriously damaged the interests of China, the US and the world's enterprises," the spokesman added.
China also urged the US to stop politicising and instrumentalising economic issues, and to "immediately" reverse these "wrong" decisions, saying that economic and trade cooperation between the two countries is beneficial to both.
Relations between Washington and Beijing have deteriorated in recent months due to the trade frictions and international alliances that separate them, and were derailed first in August last year with the visit to Taiwan of the then Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and in February this year with the US military's shooting down of an alleged Chinese spy balloon - a weather probe, according to Beijing.