China Restricts Exports of Critical Chip Production Metals

There’s a global battle to control technologies critical to industrial and military use—and both the U.S. and China are announcing restrictions, worsening the relationship between the countries.

China, for example, announced it will limit gallium and germanium exports starting Aug. 1. Both metals are vital in making semiconductors. The move will raise hardware manufacturing costs. China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that gallium and germanium and their chemical compounds will be subject to export controls.

China is the leading producer of 20 critical raw materials, including gallium and germanium, and is dominant in refined production and processing. The metals are used in such products as solar panels, lasers, night-vision goggles, and computer chips.

Exporters of the two metals will need to apply for licenses from the commerce ministry to ship them out of the country and will be required to report details of the overseas buyers and their applications. The State Council may escalate application reviews.

China and the U.S. want technological dominance in everything from quantum computing to artificial intelligence and chip manufacturing. The U.S. is implementing aggressive measures to keep China from gaining the upper hand and wants allies to do the same. The export limits are also coming at a time when nations worldwide are working to rid their supply chains of dependencies on overseas equipment.

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