According to statements made by Republican Congressman Michael McCaul on Tuesday, the Biden administration granted licences worth more than $23 billion to businesses in the first quarter of 2016 so that those businesses could ship US technology to companies that were on a blacklist in China.
In addition, according to McCaul, the Department of Commerce, which is in charge of managing export controls, granted only 8% of licence requests to sell to those companies during the time period of January to March of the previous year.
The information comes at a time when Republican lawmakers, who currently hold control of the House of Representatives, are exerting a growing amount of pressure on the administration of Democratic President Joe Biden to further expand and broaden a crackdown on shipments of sensitive United States technology to China.
Republican Representative Michael McCaul, chair of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said during a hearing on combating the generational challenge of Chinese aggression that “the Commerce Department” continues to grant licences that allow critical U.S. technology to be sold to our adversaries. McCaul’s comments came as he grilled U.S. officials for allowing the licences to be approved.
How does this square with your statement that “we’re doing everything within [the Commerce Department’s] power to prevent sensitive U.S. technologies from getting into the hands of [Chinese] military, intelligence services or other parties?” “How does this square with your statement that “we’re doing everything within [the Commerce Department’s] power to prevent sensitive U.S. technologies from getting into the hands of [Chinese] military,
According to McCaul, the Commerce Department, which is in charge of export controls and is responsible for denying licence requests to sell to businesses that are on the U.S. trade blacklist, only denied 8% of those requests from January to March of the previous year.
At the hearing, an official from the Department of Commerce named Alan Estevez, who is in charge of overseeing U.S. export policy, stated that a policy enacted during the Trump administration that allows the blacklisted Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei to receive some U.S. technology that is below the “5G level” is “under assessment.”
Estevez also referred to the popular social media app TikTok as a “threat,” noting that a powerful committee that investigates foreign investments in the United States was currently discussing how to deal with the popular social media app that is owned by the Chinese government.
According to a statement released by TikTok, the company has been collaborating with the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States “for over two years on a plan to address national security concerns about TikTok in the United States.” TikTok issued the statement.
Gregory Meeks, a Democrat who is a member of Congress, issued a warning to avoid reading too much into the licencing numbers. He pointed out that the approval and denial data does not provide any information about the transactions.
The data comes a week after the Biden administration added new Chinese companies to the trade blacklist for aiding Russia’s military and a few months after announcing a sweeping new policy that aimed at significantly reducing shipments of chips and chipmaking tools to China. Both of these actions were taken because of Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
In 2019, former Republican President Donald Trump added the Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. to a trade blacklist known as the entity list. This was done in response to allegations of sanctions violations, spying capabilities, and intellectual property theft.
Suppliers of most companies added to the entity list have their requests to ship to the targeted firms denied. However, the Trump administration has implemented a special policy for Huawei, pledging to deny it access to certain things like 5G chips but allowing it to receive other items like 4G chips. This policy is intended to punish Huawei for its involvement in the theft of trade secrets.