(Reuters) – China will control exports of some metals widely used in the semiconductor industry, its commerce ministry announced on Monday, the latest salvo in an escalating war over access to high-tech microchips between Beijing and the United States.
The controls, which China said were aimed at protecting national security and interests, will require exporters to seek permission to ship some gallium and germanium products.
The move to manage exports of the rare elements that Beijing classifies as strategic, comes as Washington mulls new restrictions on the shipment of high-tech microchips to China, according to media reports.
The United States and the Netherlands are also set to deliver a one-two punch to China’s chipmakers this summer by further restricting sales of chipmaking equipment, part of efforts to prevent their technology from being used to strengthen China’s military.
China’s controls, to take effect from August 1, will apply to eight gallium-related products: gallium antimonide, gallium arsenide, gallium metal, gallium nitride, gallium oxide, gallium phosphide, gallium selenide and indium gallium arsenide.
They will also apply to six germanium products: germanium dioxide, germanium epitaxial growth substrate, germanium ingot, germanium metal, germanium tetrachloride and zinc germanium phosphide.
Exporters will need to go through procedures to obtain export licences, China’s commerce ministry said in a statement.
Anyone exporting these products without permission and those who export in excess of the permitted volumes will be punished, it said.
Germanium is also used in infrared technology, fibre optic cables and solar cells.