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WASHINGTON – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today urged Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo to address the flow of advanced artificial-intelligence (AI) microchips from the U.S. to China.  

Recent reporting has uncovered that, despite the Biden administration’s export controls over the shipment of advanced AI chips to China, an underground market has circumvented government regulations and is sneaking U.S.-made chips into China. 

“In recent years, the United States has imposed export controls on shipments of advanced microchips (also known as semiconductors) made by Nvidia and other companies to countries such as China. . . . In Chinese hands, these microchips ‘could aid the country’s military in tasks like guiding hypersonic missiles, setting up advanced surveillance systems or cracking top-secret U.S. codes,’” Kennedy wrote.

“Despite these export controls, recent reporting has uncovered a ‘barely concealed network of buyers, sellers and couriers bypassing the Biden administration’s restrictions aimed at denying China access to Nvidia’s advanced AI chips.’ According to this report, ‘[m]ore than 70 distributors are openly advertising online what they purport to be Nvidia’s restricted chips’ and many of these Chinese sellers claim to ‘have supplies amounting to dozens of the high-end Nvidia chips each month.’ Their supply is ‘so steady’ that they are ‘able to take preorders and promise delivery in weeks.' This is unacceptable,” he continued. 

“You have previously acknowledged that China’s access to these advanced microchips poses a national security threat. But despite the Commerce Department’s efforts to keep advanced microchips out of Chinese hands, it appears that the steady flow of advanced microchips into China continues. That flow must stop,” the senator concluded.

The senator also requested that the Commerce Department provide an update on the status of its efforts to combat advanced chip exports to China by Aug. 8, 2024.

The full letter is available here.