Biden Administration Escalates Tech War With China, Targets Access to Cloud Computing

Leah Millis/Pool Photo via AP

The Biden administration, which has been targeting China’s access to certain technologies, has once again signaled its next move against the foreign power.


While the administration had until recently been fairly soft on China, fueling the country’s accelerated growth as a world power, there have been attempts recently to begin enforcing new rules where the tech sector is concerned.

China has been notorious for stealing technology over the years in order to fuel its own growth. U.S. legal initiatives have attempted to thwart this with minor success. The Biden administration has focused on the supply of computer chips in recent months, and they are now preparing to take the next step.

In its latest move, the administration is seeking to implement a rule restricting Chinese access to cloud computing systems based in the U.S. The Wall Street Journal has more in an exclusive report on the move.

The new rule, if adopted, would likely require U.S. cloud-service providers such as and Microsoft to seek U.S. government permission before they provide cloud-computing services that use advanced artificial-intelligence chips to Chinese customers, the people said.

The Biden administration’s move would follow other recent measures as Washington and Beijing wage a high-stakes conflict over access to the supply chain for the world’s most advanced technology.

Beijing Monday announced export restrictions on metals used in advanced chip manufacturing, days ahead of a visit to China by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.


The move is supposed to close a loophole in current policy, which allows the Chinese to access certain technologies without having to use the chips needed for advanced computing. U.S. concerns with the Chinese government’s access to these technologies is driving the initiative to cut them off.

The Commerce Department is expected to unveil the action within the coming weeks as part of an expansion of its semiconductor export control policy implemented in October, the people said.

The Commerce Department declined to comment.

The ban on cloud services would be the latest in a series of tit-for-tat actions between Washington and Beijing over semiconductors and other advanced technologies.

Part of the concern here is with the advancement of artificial intelligence, which the federal government seems to be concerned with China advancing – particularly as it applies to military technology.

But while the administration is escalating tensions with the Chinese government, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is also headed to China in an attempt to de-escalate. Her goal, according to reports, is to stop the “downward spiral” of relations between the two major world powers.


The last Biden official to visit China was Antony Blinken, who finally went to the country after a long delay that began with the discovery of a spy balloon that flew across the country before being shot down over the Atlantic. However, Blinken’s visit was marred by missteps and embarrassing treatment from the Chinese government.

It’s clear that both countries view each other as hostile, but the Chinese government isn’t attempting to reconcile, and it is the Biden administration that has been acting as apologists for the Chinese even as they try to take action against them. Such moves confuse the issue of national security and cause discomfort among officials and allies.


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