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Now More Than Ever, We Shouldn't Rely on Red Chinese Chipmakers

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP

The COVID pandemic has few upsides, but arguably one of them is the fact that we received our most vivid demonstrations yet of the duplicity, underhandedness, and ruthlessness of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Americans are coming to understand, at long last, how dependent we are on the technological and industrial strength of a country that, increasingly, neither respects nor fears us. The Chinese government openly and shamelessly lies to us about the origins of COVID, it cynically blames us for the pandemic, it oppresses the Chinese themselves on a gargantuan scale, it threatens the peaceful Taiwanese people, it tries to manipulate public debate worldwide and punish its critics, and it spies, especially but not exclusively in cyberspace, on Western politicians, companies, scientists, and even on ordinary citizens. 


Why would we buy any critical technologies from such a country, and why, in particular, would we compromise our national defense by relying on the Chinese to provide the “brains”, in the form of computer chips, for so many of our weapons systems? The question answers itself: we shouldn't, and, to the extent that we have up to now, we need to change course urgently.

Many conservatives opposed the recent so-called CHIPS Act, because they saw it as a needless expansion of government power and a form of interference in the free market. Now, luckily, there's a way for Republicans and conservatives to support the laudable goal of decoupling our critical defense industry supply chains from CCP influence, without spending billions or subsidizing already profitable U.S. companies. It comes in the simple form of a proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would prohibit the Department of Defense from buying microchips from any companies in bed with the Chinese Communist Party and/or China's People's Liberation Army. In fact, it would encourage all federal contractors to cut those ties.

You would be justified in asking: why on earth would we ever have done business with such companies in the first place? Chalk it up to naïveté, or perhaps to the subtlety of the Chinese communists in exploiting Western political corruption, but, whatever the cause, we can fix the problem here and now.


In case there remains any doubt about the danger posed by our current military supply lines linking us to China, consider the fact that FBI Director Christopher Wray has said he is “blown away” by the sheer breadth of Chinese intelligence operations inside the U.S., many of which are designed to steal sensitive technology. “There's just no other country that represents a broader threat to our ideas, innovation and economic security than China”, according to Wray. He might have added that compromising our national defense is also one of China's foremost aims. Why else would the Chinese be building a formidable new arsenal of long-range nuclear missiles? The Chinese are not timid about declaring their intention to surpass us, either – economically, technologically, and militarily. It is their stated goal to become dominant in whole industries, including artificial intelligence and quantum computing, that could determine not only the economic future of this country, but also its ability to compete on the battlefields of tomorrow. The Chinese communists have, in a sense, declared economic, technological, and cyber war on us already – we just have yet to realize it and to defend ourselves from their depredations. 

Now is the time. Prohibiting the U.S. Department of Defense from patronizing Red Chinese chipmakers would be an excellent first step.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: He appears on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480/106.9.

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