But national security experts and some lawmakers said that the semiconductor export control is virtually meaningless because of the way Commerce wrote the rule governing its application.
The ban applies only to those technologies that are “uniquely” capable of producing semiconductors at 10 nanometers in size or below. Because nearly all semiconductor manufacturing tools are capable of making nanometers of different sizes, only a tiny fraction will effectively be barred, said one industry executive speaking on condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.
The additions also include several construction companies, among them China Communications Construction Co., for helping China militarize disputed territory it has occupied in the South China Sea.
Also added to the list were several universities, in Beijing, Nanjing and Tianjin, for alleged actions including trade-secret theft or “acquiring and attempting to acquire U.S.-origin items in support of programs for the People’s Liberation Army.”
The Entity List sanctions show that cutting trade ties with China remains a top priority for the Trump administration’s many China hawks, who view the country’s growing technological and military might with increasing alarm. Similar concerns also have taken root in Congress, among Republicans and Democrats, and could continue during a Biden administration.