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China Calls on WTO to Review Chip Export Curbs Led by US

Beijing urges the World Trade Organization to scrutinse export restrictions imposed by the US, Netherlands and Japan on companies that make advanced computer chips

Critics say the WTO has been stifled by Chinese SOEs, Indian obstructionism and US indifference.
A World Trade Centre logo is seen at its office in Geneva. Reuters file photo


China has called on the World Trade Organization to review export restrictions imposed by the United States and two of its allies aimed a blocking its capacity to use and make advanced chips.

Chinese officials complained at a regular WTO meeting this week about the US-led technology restrictions, state television announced on Wednesday.

A Geneva-based trade official confirmed that China raised the issue and asked the WTO to strengthen its monitoring of the measures during a tense two-day meeting of its Council for Trade in Goods.

The US has previously said its actions relate to national security grounds and should not be subject to review by the WTO.


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‘Wrong practice’

The news follows moves by governments in the US, the Netherlands and Japan, which ordered makers of advanced chips not to export their products to China to prevent them being used for military purposes.

On Tuesday, the Commerce Ministry said Beijing was seriously concerned about Japan’s export curbs on chip-making equipment and called for it to correct its “wrong practice”.

The move of the three nations in alignment to curb chip exports to China “violates the fairness and transparency principles of WTO”, state broadcaster CCTV said on Wednesday.

Last week, without specifying China as the target, Japan had said it would restrict export of 23 types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, a move in line with Washington’s curbs announced last September.

That came after the Netherlands said last month that it also planned to limit similar exports, such as those from ASML Holding NV, which dominates the market for lithography systems used to create chips’ minute circuitry.

China has accused the US of being a “tech hegemony” and urged the Netherlands not to follow it. The state broadcaster gave no details of any WTO response to China’s remarks.


China’s WTO record problematic

However, little is expected to come from the Chinese complaint, partly because its record of adhering to WTO rules is controversial and problematic.

The Office of US Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai launched a 72-page report last year that condemned China for failing to adopt significant WTO rules despite being a member of the global trade body for 20 years.

“China also has a long history of violating, disregarding and circumventing WTO rules to achieve its industrial policy objectives,” an annual report to Congress by Ambassador Tai’s office said in February 2022.

When it joined in December 2001, Beijing said it would embrace those principles, Tai said. “China has instead retained and expanded its state-led, non-market approach to the economy and trade.”

The United States has long denounced Chinese practices, such as its subsidies for public companies. Beijing is also accused of stealing intellectual property and forcibly transferring know-how and technology from foreign companies in exchange for market access.

China responded to the US measures last year with a WTO complaint saying the US actions were inconsistent with articles governing trade between member nations, a dispute record on the WTO’s website shows.

At the time, Washington said the measures concerned issues of national security “not susceptible to review or capable of resolution” by WTO dispute settlement.


  • Reuters with additional reporting and editing by Jim Pollard


NOTE: This report was updated with further details on April 5, 2023.





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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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