Five Republican Senators – Tom Cotton (R-AR), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) -- sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on November 15, arguing that the U.S. government "has done little to impede the flow of U.S. exports and investment to Chinese [artificial intelligence] companies with PLA ties," and calling on the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to add additional companies in this sector to its Entity List.
The letter begins by urging BIS "to follow the examples set by other U.S. government entities and identify core technologies essential to U.S. national security," and "to take all steps necessary to prevent key technologies from falling into the hands of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)."
It then turns to its focus on artificial intelligence (AI). It notes that the National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) "recently identified five technology areas key to America’s strategic competition with China: artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, semiconductors, biotechnology, and autonomous systems." With regard to AI, the letter says that "[d]espite the pressing need to restrict the PLA’s advancement in key technology areas, our government has done little to impede the flow of U.S. exports and investment to Chinese AI companies with PLA ties." These Chinese companies with PLA ties "have been readily identified through open-source analysis," the letter argues, noting "[a] recent report from Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology (CSET)" which "revealed that only eight percent of the 273 companies that supply AI equipment to the PLA are on the Department of Commerce’s Entity List."
The letter then urges BIS "to emulate the Intelligence Community by identifying key American technologies that need to be safeguarded from the Chinese Communist Party," pointing out that "Congress has already mandated the creation of such lists in the Export Control Reform Act of 2018 (ECRA)." The letter also urges BIS "to expeditiously review and then add all the PLA AI suppliers listed in the CSET report to the Entity List."
Finally, the letter requests that Commerce Secretary Raimondo answer the following questions:
1. If the intelligence community can identify core technologies vital to the United States’ competition with China, why has BIS failed to identify foundational technologies and a comprehensive range of emerging technologies, as required by law?
2. Why weren’t all of the PLA’s 273 AI suppliers listed in the CSET report already on the Entity List, given that these companies’ ties to the PLA were apparently open-source information?
3. Now that these PLA AI supplier firms have been identified, will BIS add these Chinese AI companies to the Entity List?