China to restrict chip metal exports in response to sanctions

4 Jul 2023

Image: © William W. Potter/

As China and the US continue to butt heads in the semiconductor space, the EU has been taking steps to protect its own chip industry.

China has hit back against recent sanctions, with planned export restrictions on two metals considered vital to the semiconductor sector.

The country’s planned restrictions will impact exports of gallium and germanium metals, along with various items related to these materials. These materials are used for chips that go into various electronic products, from smartphones to advanced military equipment.

Those who wish to export these materials will need to obtain a license from the country’s Ministry of Commerce. The new restrictions will come into effect next month, according to a ministry statement.

The move is believed to be a response to ongoing restrictions the US and other countries have imposed on China since late last year. The Netherlands became the latest country to join this trade-war last week, imposing export controls to restrict more technologies from Veldhoven-based ASML.

The US and its allies believe China is importing advanced chip technologies from the West crucial to the development of AI, which could be deployed for various military uses. There are rumours that the US is planning to update its chip ban measures against China later this year.

US and Chinese representatives are due to meet next week in economic talks, with the new export restrictions acting as a show of force ahead of these meetings, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Protecting the semiconductor sector

The global chip industry has been hampered in recent years with supply chain impacts and an ongoing shortage, while demand for related products continues to grow. A skills shortage is also on the rise worldwide.

The shortage has opened a conversation about the world’s reliance on foundries in the US and Asia for this essential tech component.

In response, the EU has been working a €43bn strategy to become a leader in the semiconductor sector. This Chips Act was provisionally agreed by the European Council and Parliament in April and aims to double the EU’s global market share in semiconductors to 20pc by 2030 while protecting Europe’s supply chain.

The EU has also been taking steps to strengthen relations with countries to protect the sector and boost semiconductor research. The EU recently held its first Digital Partnership council with South Korea, where the two parties agreed on key outcomes in sectors such as high-performance computing (HPC), semiconductors, quantum technology and AI.

Meanwhile, the EU is also working to strengthen its ties to Japan, particularly in the field of semiconductors, Reuters reports.

In May, the UK revealed its strategy to build up and protect its semiconductor sector, with plans to invest £1bn over the next decade. This strategy received mixed responses due to the much smaller spending plan compared to the EU and the US.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic