Foreign Policy Watch: India-China

Why is China limiting exports of raw materials?


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Read the attached story


Central Idea

  • China’s Ministry of Commerce recently announced export controls on gallium and germanium, citing national security interests.
  • The move has raised concerns due to the crucial role of these raw materials in semiconductor manufacturing and various other industries.

Why read this?

The restrictions imposed by China have prompted responses from other countries, highlighting the geopolitical backdrop of the ongoing ‘global chip war.’


Curbs Imposed by China

  • Specific Licensing Requirement: Export operators must acquire a specific license to restrict the export of gallium and germanium.
  • Application Process: Operators need to provide details of importers, end-users, end use, and the original export contract. Exporting without permission will be deemed a violation, leading to administrative penalties and potential criminal charges.

Significance and Concerns

  • Role of Gallium: Gallium is crucial for manufacturing semiconductor wafers, integrated circuits, mobile communications, satellite communications, LEDs, automotives, lighting, and sensor applications.
  • Role of Germanium: Germanium is used in fiber-optic cables, infrared imaging devices, optical devices, and solar cells due to its properties such as heat resistance and energy conversion efficiency.
  • Import Dependency: China dominates 80% of gallium production and 60% of germanium production, causing concerns for countries heavily reliant on imports, such as the European Commission and India.

International Responses

  • United States: The U.S. opposes China’s export controls and plans to consult with partners and allies to address the issue. The focus is on diversifying supply chains and building resilience.
  • European Commission: Expresses concerns about the development, raising doubts regarding its security-related nature.
  • Geopolitical Backdrop: The US, Japan, and the Netherlands have implemented export control measures for national security reasons, targeting advanced computing chips and semiconductor manufacturing capabilities.

China’s Perspective

  • Denial of Targeting Specific Countries: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson emphasizes that the export measures are not aimed at any particular country and highlights China’s commitment to secure and stable global supply chains.
  • Countermeasures: Some Chinese officials have suggested that the export controls are just the beginning, and China may escalate its countermeasures if restrictions intensify in the future.

Impact on India

  • Short-Term Disruption: India may experience short-term disruptions in its industries due to the disruption of immediate supply chains and increased prices.
  • Long-Term Consequences: The long-term impact on India’s chip-making plans and industries will depend on factors such as alternative supply sources, domestic semiconductor production capabilities, and strategic partnerships like the India-U.S. Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET).
  • Opportunity for India: India can explore waste recovery from zinc and alumina production for gallium and germanium, consider alternative substitutes like indium and silicon, and focus on domestic semiconductor production.


  • China’s export controls on gallium and germanium have raised concerns globally due to their critical role in various industries, particularly semiconductor manufacturing.
  • The responses from other countries reflect the geopolitical backdrop of the ongoing ‘chip war.’


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