China petitions WTO as more countries promise semiconductor sanctions

IBM's 2nm chip semiconductor wafer
(Image credit: IBM)
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Countries like the United States (opens in new tab) have been making efforts to introduce sanctions against China regarding the production of semiconductors. It seems these have finally taken their toll, as Reuters (opens in new tab) reports China has launched a dispute at the World Trade Organisation against the measures that have been put in place to control the export of semiconductor chips.

The regulations against China passed by the United States in October have already seen suppliers halt business with China over national security (opens in new tab). There's no surprise that the global super power is pushing back, with China's commerce ministry stating that the sanctions have "threatened the stability of the global industrial supply chains".

"China takes legal actions within the WTO framework as a necessary way to address our concerns and to defend our legitimate interests," said a statement by the ministry.

Some of these concerns hold truth too. While Taiwan is still set to dominate (opens in new tab) the semiconductor industry for a while, China certainly does a lot of business when it comes to buying up chips to use in manufacturing. It's logical that these flow on effects for Taiwan (opens in new tab), and the semiconductor industry at large, could have real implications. 

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That doesn't mean we can expect the rest of the world to back down any time soon. According to Bloomberg (opens in new tab), Japan and the Netherlands are set to join the crusade. Both countries have at least agreed to do so in principle, and are expected to announce their own actions in the coming months. 

China could be going to the WTO now to try to nip this in the bud before it continues to bloom. The process is set to be a long one and is only just in the initial phases.

"We have received a request for consultations from the (People's Republic of China) related to certain U.S. actions affecting semiconductors," said Adam Hodge, spokesperson for U.S. Trade Representative's office.

"As we have already communicated to the PRC, these targeted actions relate to national security, and the WTO is not the appropriate forum to discuss issues related to national security," Hodge told Reuters in an emailed statement.

The United States doesn't exactly have a track record of playing nice with the WTO either. It blocked the appointment of WTO judges to settle disputes (opens in new tab), and recently rejected the findings of the organisation regarding a dispute with China around metal tariffs. So even if China does get a favourable ruling, it remains to be seen what good it would do for the country's efforts. 

Hope Corrigan
Hardware Writer

Hope’s been writing about games for about a decade, starting out way back when on the Australian Nintendo fan site Vooks.net. Since then, she’s talked far too much about games and tech for publications such as Techlife, Byteside, IGN, and GameSpot. Of course there’s also here at PC Gamer, where she gets to indulge her inner hardware nerd with news and reviews. You can usually find Hope fawning over some art, tech, or likely a wonderful combination of them both and where relevant she’ll share them with you here. When she’s not writing about the amazing creations of others, she’s working on what she hopes will one day be her own. You can find her fictional chill out ambient far future sci-fi radio show/album/listening experience podcast (opens in new tab) right here.

No, she’s not kidding.