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The Role of America's Tech Companies in China's Military Advancement

Updated on January 3, 2016

Chinese Anti ship missile launcher


China is the world’s second-largest economy. It has also advanced in the field of military technology. China recently warned the World’s super power, the USA that the latter continued aggression at the South China Sea where China has interests including the artificial islands would lead to war. This warning can never be taken lightly as the Chinese have advanced militarily. China has some of the world’s most advanced weapons in the world. China is among the five countries in the world which have nuclear bombs. China also has missiles like YJ-18 missile. A YJ-18 missile travels at a supersonic speed of about 600 miles per hour which makes it hard to hit with on board guns and also makes it a faster target for military radar. The other deadly missiles which China owns the J-20 fighter,DF-21D missiles among others.

Harpoon Missile

A Harpoon missile is launched from the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh
A Harpoon missile is launched from the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh | Source

American war ship Lassen Destroyer

The American war ship Lassen, a destroyer with guided missiles sailed within the internationally set 12 nautical miles from the contested Spratly archipelago
The American war ship Lassen, a destroyer with guided missiles sailed within the internationally set 12 nautical miles from the contested Spratly archipelago | Source

South China Sea conflict

China lays claim to the better part of South China Sea. There are other countries in the region which have also laid claims on the same. They include the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. They all have some forms of evidence to prove this rightful ownership. China has gone ahead and established some artificial islands in the sea. The United States of America has categorically stated that it does not recognize such artificial territories. The South China sea has one of the world’s greatest sea traffic. Trades worth Trillions of cash are conducted through this sea thus making the one of the most important in the international trade. The sea is also home to fishing grounds which support the livelihood of millions of people in that region.

The American war ship Lassen, a destroyer with guided missiles sailed within the internationally set 12 nautical miles from the contested Spratly archipelago. The international maritime has set limits in the Sea where countries can claim. The 12 nautical miles from a national boundary rightfully belongs to that specific country and no any other country can enter such boundaries without informing the involved party. 200 nautical miles are set for international trade. It is however not clear whether this also includes trade involving weapons or warships. The international maritime laws also do not recognize the artificial islands like the ones which China has established in the South China Sea as national territories. China has already made it clear that the islands are part of their national boundaries and are ready to protect them even if that means war.

There have been concerns among the senior officials in Pentagon that some American corporations have been assisting China to advance militarily. This continued cooperation has been seen by some experts as a threat to America’s superiority in the field of military technology. The following are some of the notable deals between China and American high tech companies that is raising concerns.

Disputed areas in South China Sea


American Tech companies working with Chinese Corporations

1. Intel Corporation- Tshingua Holdings deal

Intel is an American based company with branches all over the world. It develops technological products like microprocessors, central processing units, and motherboard chipsets among others. Tshingua holdings is a Chinese state run/ backed company which also develops microchips which are then supplied to Chinese military for the purpose of communication and electronic countermeasures. The companies signed a deal in September 2014 where Intel Corporation agreed to buy stakes at this Chinese company. They were to own 20% of Tsinghua Unigroup. Many critics believe that this deal will only help China as it will be able to acquire important information on the manufacture of such equipment which may be used for military purposes.

2. Helwett Packard (HP) - Tsinghua deal

Hp is an American tech company which manufactures various computers hardware and software. It has been the world leader in the manufacture of computers for a number of years.HP sold a certain percentage of its stakes to Tsinghua Holdings subsidiary, Unisplendour. This deal also has been seen by many as an export of crucial tech knowledge to an American rival, China.

3. Dell – Tshingua Tongfang deal

Dell another American company signed an agreement with Tshingua Tongfang, a Chinese company. The deal allowed the two to exchange advanced computing technologies. Dell also plans to invest in Artificial intelligence and advanced computing joint lab in China. Although these deals benefit the two parties as the American companies are targeting China’s high population, critics believe that this would also lead to the leak of important technological information which would America and benefit China.

4. Microsoft Corp - CETC deal

Microsoft Corp, an American company which develops computer software signed a deal with C.E.T.C Company. C.E.T.C which stands for China Electronics Technology Group Corporation is a state run company. C.E.T.C mainly specializes on developing Chinese military technology. It is C.E.T.C which developed electronics which the military applied to develop the first Chinese nuclear bomb guided missile and satellite. The deal would provide a world class operating system technology and services for Chinese users.

5. IBM Corporate – Teamsun technology deal

IBM stands for International Business Machines. It is an American corporation which develops computer software and hardware. It also provides computer cloud services. Teamsun is a Chinese company which protects the network of large Chinese companies and Government institutions. It develops satellite communication equipment for Chinese police force. The deal between these two companies allowed Teamsun to acquire intellectual property rights to advanced IBM server software and database. Although IBM received permission under US export laws, critics believe that the deal will have a negative impact on the American side as it will allow the transfer of crucial technological knowledge to the states rivals. There have been concerns that China forces the American companies to exchange technology in order to access the Chinese market. This exchange program will allow China to become self sufficient technologically and therefore has only short term benefits to the Americans.

Radiation hardened micro chip


Smuggling Of Technological products

Concerns have also been raised about smuggling of technological items such as radiation hardened microchips from America to China. This has been viewed by experts as a result of the ambitious military development plans by China. The said items are important in the development of ballistic missiles guiders and protecting military equipment from radiations. The bad news is that the US spends billions to trillions of dollars in the development of such tech equipment only for them to be released almost for nothing. Worse would happen if such gadgets are used against the US military. Hacking of America’s military systems has become more common. Also, cases of America giving or selling military gadgets to friendly nations through legal means only for the same to reach China illegally has been common.


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    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      2 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent analysis, James. The recent military threats by China in the South China Sea are very worrisome. This is both for world security and to keep trade in Asia vibrant. It is one of the few areas that are still strong even after China's economic slowdown. Excellent Hub.


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