China will impose export restrictions on industrial products and materials containing gallium and germanium from August 1 to ensure its national security and interests, said the Ministry of Commerce in a notice on Monday.
According to the relevant provisions of China's Export Control Law, Foreign Trade Law and Customs Law, gallium, which is used in the production of semiconductors and optoelectronic devices, and germanium, an important raw material for the semiconductor industry, as well as their related products, cannot be exported without permission after July.
Export of other industrial materials such as gallium nitride, gallium oxide and zone-refined germanium ingot have also been prohibited.
Exporters would now be required to apply for export licenses in compliance with relevant regulations and submit their applications to the Ministry of Commerce through provincial commerce authorities. The ministry will review the documents within a stipulated time, and may jointly review them with relevant departments. Based on the review, the ministry will decide to either grant or deny licenses.
Han Xiaomin, general manager of JW Insights, a Chinese semiconductor market research company, said the restricted items are important materials for semiconductors, and they are closely related to applications in military industry. There is a good ground for China to have export control on these materials to safeguard its national security.
The move may be a countermeasure against the US-led chip export controls on China, Han said.
Gallium nitride, for instance, is a new, higher performing semiconductor material. Its ability to conduct electrons more than 1,000 times more efficiently than silicon is now well established, experts said.