Two universities related to the Chinese military are banned from using software called MATLAB, an essential tool for engineering students. Even though most Chinese had never heard of this tool let alone using it, the question of what more “bans” to come has become their nightmare.
The Harbin Institute of Technology and Harbin Engineering University have been added to the US “entity list” due to their close ties with the People’s Liberation Army. There are 15 Chinese universities on the entity list published by the US Department of Commerce on May 22, covering high tech areas like aerospace, material science, computing, engineering, and Artificial Intelligence, etc.
The students learned about the ban from the customer support after MATLAB stopped working in those two universities:
“Due to recent U.S. government regulations, MathWorks is prohibited from providing technical or customer support to Harbin Engineering University and Harbin Institute of Technology, including your institution.
As a result, we are unable to process your request at this time. MathWorks continues to monitor this situation and will update you should anything change.”
MATLAB (matrix laboratory) is a multi-paradigm numerical computing environment and proprietary programming language developed by MathWorks. MATLAB allows matrix manipulations, plotting of functions and data, implementation of algorithms, creation of user interfaces, and interfacing with programs written in other languages.
As of 2020, MATLAB has more than 4 million users worldwide for mathematics, modeling & simulation, engineering, science, electric communication, automobile and aerospace, electricity & energy, bio-medical, economics & finance, etc.
For engineering students, MATLAB is as essential as Microsoft Office. The research papers written by the students from these universities are no longer authorized to display or reference anything related to MATLAB.
MATLAB is so important for engineering students that its installation is the first thing they learn in many Chinese colleges.
Finding an alternative to MATLAB is not simple due to “Simulink”, which is integrated with MATLAB®, as a graphical editor, customizable block libraries, and solvers for modeling and simulating dynamic systems.
Mathworks, the company that developed MATLAB, had many collaborations with the Harbin Institute of Technology.
Some employees from Mathworks expressed their disagreement with the US-China trade war and the MATLAB ban, which was requested by the US government.
Chinese netizens worry about technology bans
MATLAB ban has sent a shockwave through China as many see it as a “warning sign” for more bans to come as the Chinese regime is getting increasingly hostile toward the west.
“The ignorant and arrogant Chinese Communist Party think they can destroy the US without knowing our dependency on American technologies and tools.”
“We are doomed if Microsoft pulls the plug! We will go back to the Stone Age without PC!! “