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The Chinese government has announced plans to export controls on metals, which are mainly used to make semiconductors used in the development of artificial intelligence (AI) systems.
On July 3, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce released a joint statement with the General Administration of Customs, saying that the control is to protect national security interests and that a government-issued license will be required to export certain gallium and germanium products.
Control begins August 1 and includes eight gallium-related products: gallium antimonide, gallium arsenide, gallium metal, gallium nitride, gallium oxide, gallium phosphide, gallium selenide, and gallium indium arsenide.
They also cover six germanium products: germanium dioxide, germanium epitaxial growth substrate, germanium ingot, germanium metal, germanium tetrachloride, and germanium zinc phosphide.
Gallium is a metal often found in electronics, with semiconductors being the most popular use case along with transistors and lasers. It can also be used to make LEDs. Germanium is also used in the creation of semiconductors, solid state electronics and fiber optic systems.
The statement said that anyone who exports such products without proper authorization or in excess will be punished.
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According to a 2023 report from the European Commission and the European Critical Raw Materials Association (CRMA), “Global germanium supplies remain highly concentrated in China.” CRMA also reported that more than 80% of the world’s gallium comes from China.
October 2022 USA. imposed sanctions that deprived Chinese developers of access to the most advanced semiconductors on the market. These include the Nvidia A100 chips and the latest H100.
The Nvidia A800 and H800 chips are currently available in the Chinese market. However, due to the smaller technology, they can only support small AI models. Chinese companies are said to be looking for workarounds to the lack of access.
U.S. officials are now considering the possibility of further restrictions on their already imposed export restrictions on the high-level AI chips needed to produce high-powered systems.
Since the AI boom, the cost of chips from Nvidia, a major developer of coveted semiconductors, has skyrocketed. Cointelegraph reached out to Nvidia to comment on recent developments from China, however they responded immediately.