In brief: The Biden administration reportedly wants Chinese tech companies to aid in imposing stricter export rules against Russia as a result of the latter country's invasion of Ukraine. Companies that refuse could face sanctions, but that may also complicate US-China trade relations.
Several countries in Europe started imposing additional sanctions on Russia last week in response to its invasion of Ukraine, prompting some in the semiconductor industry to look for alternative suppliers for materials and gases needed at their chip manufacturing facilities.
US companies are also facing mounting pressure to restrict access to their services from Russia, not to mention the possibility of cyberattacks on their infrastructure similar to what government institutions in Ukraine have seen over the past few days. Microsoft, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have all taken steps to limit or remove Russian state-sponsored media messaging and advertisements on their platforms, and Netflix has refused to comply with an order to stream 20 federal TV channels starting today.
Intel, AMD, and others recently halted industrial chip sales to Russia, but it’s unclear how big of an impact this may have on a country that is mostly reliant on Asia for its infrastructure needs.
According to a Bloomberg report, the Biden administration may ask Chinese companies like Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) and Lenovo to aid in imposing export controls for American-made technology, especially in the case of Russia’s defense sector.
Chinese companies that refuse this request may be restricted from accessing American manufacturing equipment, spare parts, and technology licenses. As of writing, more than two-thirds of the chips, computers, phones, and other tech products imported by Russia come from China.
In related news, the Biden administration asked cryptocurrency exchanges from around the world to prevent Russian individuals and organizations from using them as a tool for avoiding sanctions. Major exchanges like Coinbase, Kraken, and Binance have thus far agreed to do so in the case of individuals currently targeted by economic sanctions, but they refuse to apply the same treatment to the accounts of ordinary Russian citizens.