China’s export curbs a ‘warning’ to US, state media says

State-run Global Times says China will not be ‘passively’ squeezed out of the global semiconductor supply chain.

China US
China and the US have been locked in a heated rivalry in the tech sector [File: Florence Lo/Reuters]

Chinese state media has described restrictions on exports of rare metals used for making semiconductors and electric cars as a “warning” to the United States that China will not be squeezed out of global supply chains.

In an editorial published on Tuesday, the Global Times said Washington and its allies have sought to suppress China’s tech sector with no regard for the “potential damage the technological iron curtain may cause to global supply and industrial chains”.

“But now the question is how long Washington can ignore the warning over the consequences when China starts taking legitimate and reasonable measures to safeguard its national security and interests,” the state-backed newspaper said.

“Compared with the US pressuring allies to cooperate on chip bans against China, China’s move this time may be more of a warning, showing that China will not be passively squeezed out of the global semiconductor supply chain,” the newspaper added.

Separately, the state-run China Daily on Wednesday quoted a former Chinese official saying the curbs were “just the start” of Beijing’s sanctions and measures.

“(China’s) export control of chip-making materials was a well-thought-out heavy punch,” Wei Jianguo, a former vice commerce minister, said in an interview, adding that countermeasures would escalate as long as measures aimed at China’s high-technology sector continue.

China’s Ministry of Commerce and China Customs on Monday announced that exports of certain gallium and germanium products would require special approval from August 1 to “preserve security and national interests”.

The announcement came after reports the US is considering new restrictions on the export of artificial intelligence chips to China in Washington’s latest move to throttle the Chinese tech sector.

China and the US have been locked in a heated battle for strategic influence in recent years, which has seen the sides announce tit-for-tat sanctions on key industries, including advanced chips.

Gallium is used in the production of integrated circuits, LEDs and photovoltaic panels for solar panels, while 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.

The European Commission on Tuesday expressed concern over China’s curbs on rare metal shipments, calling on Beijing to base export restrictions on “clear security considerations in line with the WTO [World Trade Organization] rules”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies