China exports zero germanium and gallium in August as national security curbs bite

An undated conceptual illustration of China’s technology aspirations.

Yaorusheng | Moment | Getty Images

Chipmaking nations such as the U.S. are teaming up against China

Germanium is used in solar products and fiber optics, and can be employed in military applications such as night-vision goggles. Gallium is used for manufacturing the gallium arsenide chemical compound, which is used to make radio frequency chips for mobile phones and satellite communication, and semiconductors.

Citing national security concerns, China’s commerce ministry imposed new restrictions requiring exporters to seek a license to ship some gallium and germanium compounds starting Aug. 1.

Applications for these export licenses must identify importers and end users and stipulate how these metals will be used.

In October, the U.S. had launched sweeping rules aimed at cutting off exports of key chips and semiconductor tools to China. The measures are believed to have the potential to cripple China’s ambitions to boost its domestic technology industries.

The U.S. has also lobbied key chipmaking nations and allies, like the Netherlands and Japan, to introduce export restrictions of their own.


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