New York Times publishes graphic details of US hi-tech war with China

A major article by journalist Alex W. Palmer, published in the New York Times last weekend, has revealed the extent of the high-tech war being conducted by the US against China. It has also exposed the lies of the Biden administration surrounding it.

President Joe Biden attends an event to support legislation that would encourage domestic manufacturing and strengthen supply chains for computer chips in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, March 9, 2022, in Washington. [AP Photo/Patrick Semansky]

Last October, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), which operates within the Department of Commerce, issued a document setting out a series of controls on the export of computer chips. The article began by noting that underneath its 139 pages of bureaucratic jargon and technical detail it “amounted to a declaration of economic war on China.”

The war is now about to be intensified as it is expected that the US will shortly announce investment screening mechanisms designed to cut the amount of US money invested in Chinese high-tech areas as well as updating export controls to close loopholes that have emerged since the October announcement.

The official justification for the export controls is that they are aimed at curbing Chinese military development. On her recent visit to China, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claimed they were narrowly targeted and not aimed at the broader economy.

This fiction is exposed at the beginning of the article in a key paragraph that reads:

“With the Oct.7 export controls, the United States government announced its intention to cripple China’s ability to produce, or even purchase, the highest-end chips. The logic of the measure was straightforward: Advanced chips, and the supercomputers and AI they power, enable the production of new weapons and surveillance apparatuses. In their reach and meaning, however, the measures could hardly have been more sweeping, taking aim at a target far broader than the Chinese security state. ‘The key here is to understand that the US wanted to impact China’s AI industry,’ says Gregory C. Allen, director of the Wadhwani Center for AI and Advanced Technologies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. ‘The semiconductor stuff is the means to that end.’”

Palmer wrote that the October controls “essentially seek to eradicate, root and branch, China’s entire ecosystem of advanced technology.”

According to Allen the controls were not only aimed at preventing further advance, “we are going to actively reverse their current state of the art.”

Another indication of the extent of the US measures was expressed in remarks by C. J. Muse, a senior semiconductor analyst at Evercore ISO. “If you told me about these rules five years ago, I would’ve told you that’s an act of war—we’d have to be at war.”

Information provided in the article reveals that the semiconductor chip development is characterised by two powerful and interconnected developments: the enormous speed of technological advance and the globally integrated character of chip design and manufacture.

Semiconductor chips are tiny pieces of silicon on which are carved massive arrays of electrical circuits that are switched on and off by transistors. Invented in the 1950s, transistors made their initial public appearance in so-called transistor radios which did not require the old valve technology.

The initial chips only held a “handful of transistors. Today the primary semiconductor in a new smartphone has between 10 and 20 billion transistors, each about the size of a virus, carved like a layer cake into the structure of the silicon.”

Palmer detailed some of the unprecedented technological advances by citing the case of the Dutch firm ASML which, as a result of research and development begun in 1997, produced the extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machine which is used to print the layers on a chip.

“The newest version of the machine can craft structures as small as 10 nanometers; a human red blood cell, by comparison, is about 7,000 nanometers across. It used a laser to create a plasma 40 times hotter than the surface of the sun, which emits extreme ultraviolet light—invisible to the human eye—that is refracted onto a silicon chip by a series of mirrors.”