China to curb exports of raw materials used for chip production

China has said it will impose export controls next month on items related to two rare earth metals used for chip production to "safeguard national security," in apparent retaliation for U.S. semiconductor export restrictions imposed on China.

China's Commerce Ministry said Monday that the export of items related to gallium and germanium will require its approval from Aug. 1. The new measures are based on a law that took effect in December 2020, prohibiting the export of state-of-the-art technologies and products that could be diverted to military use from the country.

Semiconductor producers, including those based in Japan, are likely to be affected by the new restrictions, as a large share of the two rare metals available on the global market are Chinese-owned.

The U.S. administration of President Joe Biden announced last October sweeping export curbs on certain advanced computing chips and related items in an effort to hobble Beijing's efforts to develop advanced technologies for military purposes.

The Biden administration has also asked Japan and the Netherlands, two countries in which leading high-tech chip-production equipment makers are located, to cooperate in limiting China's access to cutting-edge semiconductor technology.

In January, Japan and the Netherlands agreed to join the United States in curtailing exports of advanced technologies that could be used by China to develop artificial intelligence and modernize its military capabilities.

Following the three-way agreement, Japan unveiled its new export control measures in March, which are set to take effect on July 23.

The Netherlands said last week it will tighten restrictions on semiconductor equipment exports from September.

© Kyodo News