Despite being on a U.S. export blacklist since 1997, China's state-run China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP) has managed to purchase advanced U.S. computer chips from resellers within China at least twelve times over the past two and a half years. The Wall Street Journal has reviewed procurement documents revealing that CAEP procured these chips, made by companies such as Intel and Nvidia, for use in its laboratory studying computational fluid dynamics, which includes modeling nuclear explosions.

China’s DF-41 nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles are seen during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing in October 2019.

Such purchases violate U.S. export restrictions aimed at preventing foreign powers from using American products for atomic-weapons research. The Journal has also found that at least 34 research papers published by CAEP over the past decade referenced using American semiconductors in the research, with at least seven having potential applications to maintaining nuclear stockpiles. CAEP has not responded to requests for comment. These findings highlight the challenges facing the Biden administration in countering China's use of American technology for military purposes, as it seeks to expand export regulations to prevent China from obtaining advanced American chips and chip-manufacturing tools used in modern warfare.