This is a question causing concern in America these days. The growth of the Chinese microchip industry has led senior politicians in the USA to question the wisdom of using Chinese built chips in sensitive military applications.

In particular, concerns have been raised over Chinese microchips being used by the The National Center for Computational Engineering (NCCE).

The NCCE, based at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga has some very powerful technology. Their supercomputers are used by the American military to simulate flight tests for super secret military aircraft and spacecraft, and to simulate submarine warfare for the Navy.

This month four Republican senators and one member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have written to the Pentagon, asking them to review a contract signed this summer between the NCCE and Huawei Technologies, a Chinese chip manufacturer with alleged close ties to the Chinese military and intelligence agencies.

The fear is that such chips might be designed with hard to detect ‘backdoor’ access routes in place, so that private individuals or Chinese state spies can access the systems at will without the knowledge of the NCCE.

Huawei have been robust in their own defence, dismissing the ‘misplaced’ concerns as a further example of anti-Chinese sentiment in American politics. In 2008, the U.S Treasury Department had blocked the proposed sale of computer infrastructure company, 3com to Huawei, based on national security grounds.