China to restrict chip exports as US weighs new curbs

Beijing says restrictions on exports of rare metals intended to ‘preserve security and national interests’.

FILE PHOTO: Flags of China and U.S. are displayed on a printed circuit board with semiconductor chips, in this illustration picture taken February 17, 2023. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo
The United States and China are engaged in a heated geopolitical rivalry [File: Florence Lo/Reuters]

China has announced it will restrict exports of rare metals used to manufacture semiconductors due to national security concerns.

Chinese exporters will need approval to send certain gallium and germanium products overseas from August 1 to “preserve security and national interests”, the Ministry of Commerce and China Customs said in guidelines issued on Monday.

The announcement comes as the United States is reportedly considering new curbs on the export of advanced chips to China.

Gallium, which has been designated a critical raw material by the European Union, is used in the production of integrated circuits, LEDs and photovoltaic panels for solar panels.

Germanium is used to make optical fibres and infrared camera lenses.

China accounts for about 80 percent of global production of the rare metals, according to the European Commission.

China and the US have been engaged in a heated geopolitical rivalry in recent years that has seen the sides impose tit-for-tat measures on semiconductors and other key tech sectors.

Washington has blacklisted scores of Chinese companies in a bid to deprive them of access to American chips and other cutting-edge technologies that it says could be used to undermine US national security.

The US has also pushed allied and partner countries to impose restrictions on the Chinese tech industry, with the Netherlands set to introduce new export curbs aimed at China later this year.

Beijing has accused Washington of seeking to throttle Chinese innovation to maintain US supremacy in the tech industry.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies