The US president spoke of the importance of semiconductors and the need to boost its domestic manufacturing, a key policy priority for his administration.

WASHINGTON: Directly accusing China of intervening in American legislative processes, US President Joe Biden has said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is lobbying to oppose the passage of the CHIPS Act, which is meant to create incentives to boost semiconductor manufacturing, in the US Congress since it is linked to national security.

Biden made the charge while speaking at a Lockheed facility in Alabama responsible for assembling Javelin missiles on Tuesday. The US and its allies have sent 5,500 Javelins to Ukraine to bolster its defences against Russian aggression till date. Biden has also asked the US Congress for an additional $33 billion to enhance security and economic assistance to Ukraine.

In the course of his speech, Biden also spoke of the importance of semiconductors and the need to boost its domestic manufacturing, a key policy priority for his administration. The US, according to the Department of Commerce’s National Institute for Standards and Technology, was historically dominant in the semiconductor global supply chains, but its share of global fabrication capacity has dipped from 40% in 1990 to 11% in 2020 even as their role in a range of industries, from automobiles to emerging technologies, has sharply increased.

To make up for this lag, the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America, also known as the CHIPS Act, was embedded in the National Defense Authorisation Act. In June 2021, the US Senate passed a legislation the US Innovation and Competition Act, which included a $52 billion in federal investments for domestic semiconductor research, design and manufacturing provisions of the CHIPS Act. In February 2022, the House of Representatives passed the America Competes Act, which has a similar provision for semiconductors. Both chambers now need to arrive at a joint legislation which will then be signed into law by Biden.

“Fundamentally, this is a national security issue. This is one of the reasons why the Chinese Communist Party is lobbying folks to oppose this bill. And it’s an issue that unites Democrats and Republicans. Let’s get this done,” Biden said.

After touring the Lockheed facility, the president said he had learnt that each Javelin included more than 200 semiconductors. “I have been a broken record, as the press will tell you, on our need to be able to produce more semiconductors in the United States…We invented the sucker…we, the United States. We are the one that modernised it. We have done more than anybody else. But guess what? We stopped investing in ourselves. And so now we are back in the game, making sure that we become the primary producers of those semiconductors – computer chips that power much of our lives.”

Pointing out that semiconductors were critical to defence production capacity, Biden said it was both why the US was making it hard for Russia to get hold of semiconductors and advanced technologies, and why it was taking steps to source it domestically during a time of global shortage.

Urging the Congress to act quickly to provide the emergency funding for the CHIPS Act by passing the broader Bipartisan Innovation Act, Biden sad, “I am determined to make sure the US holds the technological high ground in competition with other nations, especially China.”

Thirty-five years ago, the US used to invest 2% of its entire GDP in research and development and now it does half of that. “We used to be number one in the world. Now we are number 13 in the world…The US used to own the innovation field.”

The Innovation Act, Biden said, would reverse “decade-long decline in federal research and development investment”, create jobs, expand US manufacturing and strengthen national security.

“Where in God’s name is it written that the United States can no longer be a leading manufacturer in the world? We have the best workers, the most competent employees, the best science in the world?”, Biden said. Saying that today, all the world’s most advanced chips were made overseas, the US president, in another indirect allusion to China, claimed that the events of the past few years had shown that America’s security should never be held hostage to events overseas – “not a pandemic, not a war, not the politics or ambition of other countries”.

Usmanov, who owns 49% of Metalloinvest, filed an appeal at the EU’s General Court on April 29, asking the bloc’s second-highest tribunal also to suspend the sanctions until judges make a final decision, according to a court filing. A spokesperson for Usmanov declined to comment.

His case is part of an increasing number of challenges at the Luxembourg-based court since the bloc issued its first round of sanctions on Feb. 28. RT, the Kremlin-backed TV network, already lost a bid to suspend an EU ban on its broadcasts in the 27-nation bloc.

EU court fights over sanctions can last years and seldom result in victory for those targeted. Former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych and his son remain on the EU’s sanctions list since 2014, even after winning challenges to their inclusion on the 2020 version.

Germany has previously impounded Usmanov’s superyacht Dilbar, valued at as much as $750 million.

Iran’s failure to evade sanctions offers little hope for Russia

The EU announced Wednesday details of a sixth round of sanctions which includes plans to ban Russian crude oil over the next six months and refined fuels by the end of the year to further increase pressure on President Vladimir Putin.

The EU on Wednesday also proposed sanctioning Belarus’s main potash producer, Belaruskali OAO, and its export arm, Belarusian Potash Co.

Usmanov was among several billionaires, including Alfa Group owners Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven, and Severstal PJSC’s Alexei Mordashov, that were targeted in the first round of EU penalties. Roman Abramovich has also been added to the EU list.

Placing the policy in a larger context, a senior administration official told reporters that the Joe Biden administration has “integrated cybersecurity and emerging technology into our national security strategy in a truly unprecedented way”.

“Our public approach can be summarised by three mutually reinforcing lines of effort. First, modernising our cyber defences. Second, returning a more active role leading internationally. And third, ensuring America is postured to compete. The two presidential directives on quantum tech are part of that third line of effort. They underscore the president’s commitment to fostering innovation in cutting edge science and technology while continuing to take the necessary steps to safeguard the economy and infrastructure of the future,” the official said.

In keeping with this dual approach, the presidential directive on maintaining US leadership in quantum computing highlights the role of quantum computing in driving innovation, in fields as diverse as material sciences to pharma, finance to energy. At the same time, Biden’s directive notes that a quantum computer of “sufficient size and sophistication”, known as cryptanalytically relevant quantum computer (CRQC), will be capable of breaking much of the “public-key cryptography used on digital systems” in the US and across the world.

To achieve the first goal of innovation, the Biden administration said its policy would focus on maintaining US leadership in the domain “through investments, partnerships and a balanced approach to technological promotion and protection”.

To do so, the directive says, the US must invest in “core QIS research” programmes; foster the next generation of scientists and engineers with quantum-relevant skill sets; incorporate education in QIS at all levels of schooling; establish partnerships with industry, academia, and governments at all levels domestically; “promote professional and academic collaborations with allies and partners overseas”; and devise a national strategy in the domain within 90 days.

To ensure security, the directive pushes for “a timely and equitable transition of the nation’s cryptographic systems to interoperable quantum-resistant cryptography”, with the goal of mitigating as much of the quantum risk as possible by 2035. With the first set of technical standards in the domain expected by 2024, the directive says “cryptographic agility” is central, to both reduce the time needed for the transition and allow for updates.

“This effort is an imperative across all sectors of the US economy, from government to critical infrastructure, commercial services to cloud providers, and everywhere else where vulnerable public-key cryptography is key.”

The directive then lays out a detailed set of instructions to federal agencies, with clear timelines, to commence this process of transition, besides instructing the National Institute for Standards and Technology to set up a Migration to Post-Quantum Cryptography Project at the National Cyber Security Centre of Excellence.

The directive also lays out the goal of “safeguarding relevant quantum R&D (research and development) and intellectual property”, including through counterintelligence measures, export controls, and campaigns to educate industry and academia on threats of cybercrime and intellectual property theft.

Explaining its significance, the senior administration official quoted above said that the order places the advisory committee directly under the authority of the White House to ensure that the president, Congress, federal agencies and public receive the most current, accurate and relevant information on QIS and tech.

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