U.S. Export Restrictions Block Security Tech and Flight Training to China

The Lede: New additions to a U.S. export control list restrict key goods and services deemed contrary to U.S. interests

What We Know:

  • The Biden administration has added 43 entities spanning various countries to an export control list due to military and national security concerns. This impacts entities operating in China, Kenya, Laos, the UAE, South Africa, and Pakistan.
  • Companies included on the list have been cited for training Chinese military pilots, assisting in the procurement of U.S.-origin items in support of China’s military modernization, as well as for involvement in controversial human rights abuses. Technological areas targeted include hypersonic weapons development, hypersonic flight modeling, ballistic missile programs, mobile phone inspection software, fingerprint analysis technology, biostatistics software, and DNA testing items.
  • The new listings include Frontier Services Group Ltd., a security and aviation company previously run by Blackwater founder Erik Prince; the Test Flying Academy of South Africa (TFASA), a flight school that allegedly recruited ex-British military pilots to train Chinese military pilots; and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), which also has operations in South Africa.
  • 31 Chinese entities were added to the list. Shanghai Supercomputing Technology Co Ltd was added for offering cloud-based supercomputing capabilities to support hypersonics research. Ryan Wende Science and Technology Co. was targeted for providing biometric and other types of tracking technology to Public Security Bureaus in China. Xinjian Kehua Hechang Biological Science and Technology Co. Ltd. was also targeted for distributing biotech.

The Background: U.S. policies in recent years have focused on hampering China’s military development in the increasingly competitive security environment of the Indo-Pacific region. Human rights concerns have also been a major point of criticism by the U.S. with policy measures and sanctions to target the treatment of the Uyghur minority group there. At the end of May, the top U.S. and Chinese Commerce and Trade Officials met in Detroit and Washington, where they raised disagreements while elevating communications between the rivaling economies. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to visit Beijing later in the week to make up for a canceled trip earlier in the year.

Likely Outcomes:

  • These export restrictions logically follow the increased tensions in the U.S.-China security rivalry and the continued outcry in the U.S. and the West with regard to the human rights concerns in Xinjiang. It remains to be seen if further restrictions follow and if the U.S. will expand the scope of national security and human rights reasons used to justify future restrictions.
  • Economic, political, and military relations have deteriorated significantly just in the previous week as Beijing’s rhetoric has become increasingly frustrated with Washington’s continued pressure. China may decide to launch retaliatory measures against these export restrictions in line with previous patterns of its rivalry.
  • This move reverses some of the progress from the meeting between commerce and trade officials last month aimed at increasing dialogue and communication between the U.S. and China. Companies in these sensitive sectors will increasingly have to anticipate the possibility of economic restrictions by one or both superpowers if the competition does not slow.  


"It is imperative that we prevent China from acquiring U.S. technologies and know-how to enable their military modernization programs." – Matthew Axelrod, Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement at the U.S. Department of Commerce

“The United States has repeatedly overstretched the concept of national security, abused state power, unwarrantedly suppressed Chinese companies, and wantonly disrupted the international economic order and trade rules. It has reached a level of unscrupulous hysteria.” – Wang Wenbin, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson

Good Reads:

Flight Training for Chinese Military Pilots Targeted in Latest US Export Crackdown (US News)

Beijing criticizes new US sanctions on companies over pilot training, weapons development (AP)

US cracks down on flight training for Chinese military pilots with export restrictions (SCMP)