China has hit back at US-led restrictions on semiconductor sales by seeking to throttle exports of two metals used in chipmaking and communications equipment, as the geopolitical tit-for-tat between the two superpowers steps up, reports the Financial Times. Gallium and germanium will be subject to export restrictions in order to “safeguard national security and interests,” China’s Ministry of Commerce and Administration of Customs said on Monday. Exporters will have to apply to the ministry for permits from the beginning of August, it said.
Both materials can form alternatives to traditional silicon wafers in specialised applications, as well as for components used in military and communications equipment.
The Chinese measures come days after the Netherlands announced plans to apply the latest set of controls to limit the sale of high-end chipmaking equipment abroad. The move is expected to prevent dozens of machines made by Dutch company ASML, which producecs the world’s most advanced semiconductor-making tools, from reaching Chinese companies.