US extends export bans on three firms over illegal China exports

Firms sent technical drawings blueprints from US customers to manufacturers in China to 3-D print defence prototypes without authorisation.

A jogger passes US flags on the National Mall in front of the Capitol Building in Washington, DC.
The US gov't views such unauthorised exports as harming national security [File: Will Oliver/EPA]

The US Department of Commerce will continue to deny three US-based firms’ export privileges, the government said, adding that the companies had illegally exported satellite, rocket and defence technology to China.

The extension came after new concerns about Quicksilver Manufacturing Inc, Rapid Cut LLC and US Prototype Inc, which the Department of Commerce said in a June 7 order had sent technical drawings and blueprints from US customers to manufacturers in China to 3-D print satellite, rocket and defence-related prototypes without authorisation.

The companies, which share the same Wilmington, North Carolina, address, could not be reached for comment.

Since June, the Department of Commerce found additional US companies that worked with the firms, involving the unlicensed export to China of firearm components and space technology details.

Such exports are viewed as harming US national security. The new order denies the companies’ export privileges for another 180 days, and gives notice to other companies to avoid doing business with them.

The department did not identify the companies that had contracted with the North Carolina firms. But, according to the department’s June order, a US aerospace and global defence technology company notified the department in February 2020 of a third-party supplier’s unauthorised export of controlled satellite technology.

The department’s investigation revealed that Quicksilver got an order in July 2017 for satellite parts for the aerospace company’s prototype space satellite. To make components, Quicksilver sent technical drawings and blueprints to China to outsource 3-D printing.

Quicksilver was also involved in a violation relating to a third US company, an advanced science and engineering company with contracts with the Department of Defense, the department said.

In the December order, the Department of Commerce said that a China-based individual who operated a email address may have violated the June order by providing customers with information on how to complete and fulfil pending orders.

The December order, which was posted for publication in the Federal Register on Thursday, said the Department of Commerce was told the person was employed by a Chinese manufacturer that pays Rapid Cut commissions on sales.

Source: Reuters