U.S. officials Thursday imposed new restrictions on nuclear exports to China after concluding that Beijing was seeking to illicitly acquire the technology to bolster its military and to undermine U.S. industry.
The policy change is the latest bid by the Trump administration to thwart China’s pursuit of critical U.S. technology, following a recent measure to strengthen reviews of Chinese investment in Silicon Valley and other sensitive industries. It also comes amid rising security tensions between the two military powers.
Officials said recent activity by Beijing and Chinese state-owned firms prompted a National Security Council-led review of U.S. nuclear policy toward China that concluded a change was necessary. They said they found evidence China was accelerating efforts to illicitly gain the technology for both military and commercial use, including on islands in disputed waters in the South China Sea, for floating nuclear power plants with the potential for rapid deployment, and for aircraft carriers and submarines. They said they also found that China was improperly diverting U.S. nuclear technology to other countries.
The new rules, which take effect immediately, include a presumption of denial for the export of nuclear goods to China’s largest nuclear power company, the state-backed China General Nuclear Power Co., or CGN, officials said. CGN was the subject of a 2016 indictment—that also targeted U.S. citizen, Szuhsiung “Allen” Ho—that said the company was developing “special nuclear material” outside the U.S. without required U.S. authorization. Ho pleaded guilty in January 2017 for unlawfully enlisting U.S.-based nuclear experts to assist CGN and was sentenced to 24 months in prison.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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