February 5, 2023

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The United States and China: a duel over chips, a race for technological supremacy. What is going on

China and the United States challenge each other on high-tech, in a duel that promises to be the hottest and most extensive for technological supremacy of the two superpowers. Beijing has written the final chapter in the dispute, filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) over restrictions on chip exports by the United States. Last October 7, the United States announced one of the largest maneuvers to limit exports to China of semiconductor and equipment for the production of chips, vital for the production of smartphones, but also for the development of advanced weapons systems.

US rules
Under Washington’s new rules, manufacturers of these components will need one Special license To be able to export to China, because the United States intends to do everything to prevent “sensitive technologies with military applications” from falling into the hands of Beijing, said the US Undersecretary of Commerce, Alan Estevez, commenting on Washington’s decision. Among the measures taken, there is also the measure taken campus For US citizens, or green card holders, of Work in Chinese companies In this sector, a move aimed at shutting off US resource taps for Chinese companies, in the name of protecting national security.

Beijing complaint
In its complaint to the WTO, China described Washington’s practices as “exemplary in… Trade protectionism». Beijing accuses the United States of “popularizing the concept of national security, misusing export control measures, impeding normal international trade in chips and other products, threatening the stability of the global industrial and supply chain, and disrupting the economy and the international trade system »e Violation of economic and commercial rules.

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With the complaint of last December 15, the dispute was officially opened in the World Trade Organization between China and the United States, which will have sixty days to resolve it, after which the appellant country, that is, China, will have the right to request an investigation by a panel of experts.

Washington replied
Washington responded to Beijing’s complaint to the World Trade Organization – its first since the beginning of the Joe Biden administration – by noting that the body that administers international trade rules “is not The right place»With regard to national security, and announcing that they do not intend to back down from the measures taken. By contrast, the Washington Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security has placed 36 companies — including China’s largest maker of computer memory technology, Ymtc — on its entity list, which requires obtaining a government license to export certain products. Of the 36 reported clusters, all but one, located in Japan, is located in China and is controlled by a Chinese cluster.

The scale of the dispute
The dispute is not only related to China and the United States, but has much broader dimensions. nope the Japan that Holland They are considering restrictions on exports to China under pressure from Washington, to the annoyance of Beijing. The subtle warning that the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, addressed to the Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, on the sidelines of the recent G20 Summit in Bali should be read in this light. “The world is one, and it is necessary to counter the politicization of economic and trade issues and maintain the stability of global industry and supply chains,” Xi said.

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The target is the chip equipment maker ASML, which has recently shown a reluctance to cut off trade ties with China under pressure from the United States. Xi’s appeal to the Japanese Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, made a few days later in Bangkok, on the sidelines of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum) summit, was similar in tone.