US reportedly plans to restrict China’s access to cloud computing services

Officials in the United States are considering restricting China’s access to cloud computing services in an effort to safeguard the country’s advanced technology, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. 

According to the report, the Biden Administration proposed adding controls to the amount of access China companies will have to U.S.-based cloud computing services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft. 

Providers, including those mentioned above, would need government approval prior to providing services that use powerful artificial intelligence (AI) chips to Chinese clients, the WSJ said, citing sources close to the matter.

This would close a major loophole in its already existing sanctions on chip exports, through which national security analysts have suspected Chinese companies have been able to bypass restrictions via cloud services, the report said.

Analysts speculated that Chinese customers could access advanced computing capabilities through cloud services without the need to purchase the sanctioned chips like Nvidia’s A100 chips popularly used in AI development.

According to the sources, the Commerce Department should unveil the new measures in the following weeks, the WSJ reported.

Cointelegraph has reached out to both Google Cloud and AWS for comment, but has not yet received a response.

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In October 2022, the U.S. imposed its initial sanctions on Chinese access to semiconductor chips in an effort to slow down industry advancement abroad. Those regulations cut Chinese developers off from more advanced chips on the market.

On June 28, the administration said it was considering tightening the above measures to include clamping down the computing power in chips that are still able to be exported.

The Chinese government then announced on July 3 that it plans to implement controls on exports of gallium and germanium products, both of which are heavily used to produce semiconductors of the caliber needed for AI development.

China is one of the world’s top producers of gallium and germanium. Limited access to these metals could have a potentially negative impact on the chip manufacturing industry.

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