In a secretive military facility in southwest China, a supercomputer whirs away, simulating the heat and drag on hypersonic vehicles speeding through the atmosphere — missiles that could one day be aimed at a U.S. aircraft carrier or Taiwan, according to former U.S. officials
The computer is powered by tiny chips designed by a Chinese firm called Phytium Technology using American software and built in the world’s most advanced chip factory in Taiwan, which hums with American precision machinery, say the analysts.
Phytium portrays itself as a commercial company aspiring to become a global chip giant like Intel. It does not publicize its connections to the research arms of the People’s Liberation Army.
The hypersonic test facility is located at the China Aerodynamics Research and Development Center (CARDC), which also obscures its military connections though it is run by a PLA major general, according to public documents,
and the former officials and analysts, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.
The Trump administration was set to place Phytium and a handful of other Chinese companies on an export blacklist late last year, but ran out of time, according to former U.S. officials.
Such a listing would block technology of American origin from flowing to those firms. And, experts say, it would slow the advance of China’s hypersonic weapons program, as well as other sophisticated weapons and more powerful surveillance capabilities.@potus @vp @JohnKerry
Semiconductors are the brains of modern electronics, enabling advances in everything from clean energy to quantum computing. They are now China’s top import, valued at more than $300 billion a year, and a major priority in China’s latest Five-Year Plan for national development.
CARDC, which says it has 18 wind tunnels, is heavily involved in research on hypersonic weapons, according to former U.S. officials and U.S. and Australian researchers. Its director, Fan Zhaolin, is a major general, but he is pictured in civilian clothes on the center’s website.
The center has been on the U.S. trade blacklist — called the “entity list”— since 1999 for contributing to “the proliferation of missiles.” In 2016 Commerce further tightened restrictions on the facility.
China’s major investments in hypersonics is a major concern at the Pentagon.

“The only way to reliably see a hypersonic vehicle is from space, which makes it a challenge,” said Mark J. Lewis, until recently the Pentagon’s director of defense research and technology.
If it is traveling at hypersonic speeds — going at least a mile per second — it gives a missile defense system very little time to figure out what it is and how to stop it, he said.
A million trillion calculations

In 2014, the U.S. Air Force released an unclassified report on the technology of air warfare that included hypersonics. “Anyone could pick up this document,” Lewis said. “Then we basically took our foot off the gas.
China, unlike the United States, has fielded a hypersonic weapon: a medium-range hypersonic glide vehicle.
Hundreds to thousands of different configurations of heat, vehicle lift and atmospheric drag need to be analyzed to make a hypersonic missile work, which would be too expensive and time-consuming through physical testing alone
In May 2016, CARDC unveiled a “petascale” supercomputer that would aid the aerodynamic design of hypersonic missiles and other aircraft. A petascale computer can handle one trillion calculations per second.
More loopholes

Phytium’s microprocessors are produced at gleaming factories outside Taipei by the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which now makes the world’s most advanced chips, having surpassed the United States.
The company, for instance, makes chips used in advanced American weapons, including F-35 fighter jet. TSMC announced last year it would build a $12 billion factory in Arizona in response to Trump administration concerns about the security of the semiconductor supply chain.
“These private companies do business and don’t consider factors like national security,” Ou said, adding that Taiwan, as a small country, lacks the leverage and will to enact export bans
Mark Li, an analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said unless Phytium is placed under sanctions, TSMC is in no position to cut it off. “It’s not TSMC’s job to be a policeman for the United States,” he said. “That’s for politicians to decide.
TSMC has a “robust assessment and review process on shipments to specific entities that are subject to export control restrictions,” spokeswoman Nina Kao said. “We are not aware of a product manufactured by TSMC that was destined for military end-use
TSMC, the largest of several Taiwanese chipmakers, is in the unusual position of manufacturing chips “that end up being used for military purposes by both the United States and China,” said Si-fu Ou, a fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research
The Biden administration on Thursday placed seven Chinese firms and government labs under U.S. export controls
All seven are linked to China’s ambition to build the world’s first exascale computer, Commerce Department officials said. An exascale computer — the next frontier in high- performance computing — can handle a million trillion calculations per second.
The move makes good on an effort begun under the Trump administration to add the entities to a Commerce Department trade blacklist known as the “Entity List.” The previous administration ran out of time, leaving the package up to its successor to approve.
“These are parties that are acting in ways that are contrary to our national security interests,” said a senior agency official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.
The designated entities include three semiconductor firms: Tianjin Phytium Information Technology (or Phytium), Shanghai High-Performance Integrated Circuit Design Center and Sunway Microelectronics.
The trio have links to the People’s Liberation Army. Phytium microprocessors have been used for the supercomputer at China’s largest aerodynamics research complex, which is conducting hypersonics weapons research.
The other four entities are the National Supercomputing Center Jinan, the National Supercomputing Center Shenzhen, the National Supercomputing Center Wuxi and the National Supercomputing Center Zhengzhou.
The Commerce Department began sanctioning entities linked to Chinese military high-performance computing in 2015 under the Obama administration. That year, for example, it placed the National University of Defense Technology and the National Supercomputing Center in Tianjin
the Biden administration must apply a more stringent measure — known as the foreign direct product rule — that bars all U.S. technology to sanctioned entities even if that technology is coming from a foreign company.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh
 

Keep Current with James Mitchell Ⓥ🐬

James Mitchell Ⓥ🐬 Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!

PDF

Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @MesMitch

10 Apr
Carcasses of 109 bald and golden eagles examined in study
Eagles probably exposed by predatory and scavenging activities
By examining the carcasses of golden and bald eagles found between 2014 and 2018, scientists were able to determine that the majority of them had exposure to poison. That included 96 of 116 bald eagles studied, and 13 of 17 golden eagles.
Read 9 tweets
9 Apr
Ankara'da patilerine damar yolu açılmış onlarca ölü köpek bulundu*ANKARADA nele Oluyor?! @mansuryavas06 gazeteduvar.com.tr/ankarada-toplu…
A large number of dead dogs were found in garbage bags in an empty field in Ankara on the border of Mamak and Çankaya. It was found that most puppies had vascular access in their paws. @mansuryavas_en @mansuryavas_en
Faruk Açık, the President of the Stray Association, who feeds stray animals near Ankara Imrahor District, came across dead dogs that were put in bags on the empty land. Officials and some animal lovers went to the region after Açık reported the situation.
Read 4 tweets
9 Apr
Third of Antarctic ice shelves ‘will collapse amid 4C global heating’
#ClimateAction

#EndangeredSpeciesAct
#StandforWolves
‘Unimaginable amounts’ of water will flow into oceans if that temperature rise occurs and ice buffers vanish, warn UK scientists
Researchers from the University of Reading said that limiting the temperature rise to 2C could halve the area at risk and avoid a drastic rise in sea levels.#ClimateAction theguardian.com/world/2021/apr…
The findings, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, suggest that 4C warming could leave 34% of the area of all the Antarctic ice shelves – amounting to about half a million square kilometres – at the risk of collapse.#ClimateAction
Read 7 tweets
8 Apr
How an election in Greenland could affect China — and the rare-earth minerals that go into your cellphone
Sitting on vast, untapped reserves of uranium and rare-earth minerals, Greenland holds the keys to massive wealth.

But many Greenlanders have grave doubts about whether they should allow the world to exploit these resources
Rare-earth minerals are used to make high-tech devices, including cellphones, flat-screen monitors, electric cars, wind turbines and weapons.
Read 7 tweets
8 Apr
My knowledge of the documents and my voice connect the flow of money from various banks and from personal finances that bleed directly into the Trump Organization,” she said in an interview Thursday.
Investigators, she added, now have her ex-husband’s 2019 and 2020 statements of net worth, his tax returns and copies of Wollman Rink checks from private events that she claims were deposited incorrectly.
Vance (D) and New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) — running parallel investigations — have inquired about whether Allen Weisselberg or his son received untaxed benefits from the Trump Organization.
Read 6 tweets
8 Apr
Genetic sequencing dating back 45,000 years shows intermixing with Neanderthals more common than previously thought
The research is based on analysis of several ancient human remains – including a whole tooth and bone fragments – found in a cave in Bulgaria last year.
Genetic sequencing found the remains came from individuals who were more closely linked to present-day populations in east Asia and the Americas than populations in Europe.
Read 4 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!


This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!