The U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, announced on June 8 that it had suspended three American companies for allegedly illegally exporting satellite and sensitive military prototypes to China. 

Those products are subject to strict U.S. export controls because of their sensitivity and importance to U.S. national security.

The Bureau stated that Quicksilver Manufacturing Inc, Rapid Cut LLC, and U.S. Prototype Inc. allegedly exported technical drawings and blueprints for 3D printed satellites, rockets, and defense-related prototypes without authorization.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod said, “Outsourcing 3-D printing of space and defense prototypes to China harms U.S. national security.” 

He added, “By sending their customers’ technical drawings and blueprints to China, these companies may have saved a few bucks—but they did so at the collective expense of protecting U.S. military technology.” 

The three firms allegedly have been subjected to unlicensed export of national security-controlled technology and illegal export of controlled technical data to China. As a result, they have been suspended for 180 days, and the sanction could be renewed. In addition, they are banned from being engaged in export activities from the U.S. 

The Department of Commerce said the case remains under investigation. However, it urged customers of the three firms to review their transactions to avoid potential intellectual property or export-controlled technology violations.

Reuters cited Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, saying that the U.S. used export controls as a tool of economic bullying. He added the move hurt international trade rules and global supply chains.

The Department stated that in 2020 it was alerted by an American aerospace and global defense technology firm, saying a third-party supplier violated export-control law by illegally exporting controlled satellite technology to China.

Its investigation found that in 2017, Quicksilver allegedly violated the unlicensed export of national security-controlled technology to China. 

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