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Heritage Foundation: Export Controls and the Hard Case of China

A warning to the reader. The following post is one of those that my friends will look at me and say, what? English my friend, English. In other words, Beltway gobbledygook.

If you have been following the Obama Administration’s export control reform process, you are familiar with the proposed four reform singularities:

  1. one export control list (an easy to use list of high-tech and defense items that may require a license to ship outside the U.S.);
  2. one set of rules so we know what to do and when;
  3. one coordination center, the Export Enforcement Coordination Center (so that the federales from numerous agencies work better together); and,
  4. one IT system (a ballyhooed solution in a post-09.11.01 world for many agency organization issues, information sharing).

The Obama Administration deserves credit for tackling this issue head-on. The serious question of who gets access to U.S. defense and high-tech crown jewels is no easy task. Trade is critical to national security, but so is controlling who purchases our some of our best equipment and services. Yet, we currently have a regulatory regime better suited to the Cold War than to the 21st century.

Recent civil enforcement actions as well as criminal prosecutions for violations of these laws show that potential and actual adversaries have been willing and able to acquire sensitive technologies. A lot of what has been done by the Obama Administration, to date, revolves around the licensing side of things. Presumably, a lot more will be done to bolster enforcement efforts as well through the EECC.

If you follow this issue, lawyers and policy watchers have penned a lot on these proposals (some of which date to the Bush Administration). The latest comes from Dean Cheng, Research Fellow, Heritage Foundation, Center for Asian Studies. Cheng’s piece is one of the more focused items I have read in a while, and makes a serious effort at thinking through one of the most sensitive matters of the reform process, what to do about China.

Read the Heritage Foundation backgrounder.

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