China's export control measures on metals crucial for the semiconductor industry signify the country's intent to safeguard its high-tech sector. These measures, which require government approval for the export of gallium and germanium, have raised concerns among Western companies reliant on a steady supply from China.

The timing of China's announcement, just before US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen's visit to Beijing and on the eve of US Independence Day, suggests a deliberate effort to send a message to the Biden administration and its allies. The US has been targeting China's chip sector and encouraging other countries to impose similar restrictions.

China's export controls on gallium and germanium are seen as a potential starting point, as former Vice Minister of Commerce Wei Jianguo highlights. He warns that if restrictions against China's high-tech sector persist, countermeasures will be tightened further. These controls also raise the possibility of China imposing restrictions on rare earths, given its previous actions during a dispute with Japan.

The impact of China's export controls extends beyond the semiconductor industry. Some experts have raised concerns about potential control over graphite exports, which could significantly impact global automakers. China is a major producer of graphite, accounting for the majority of the world's natural graphite and recycled material used for electric vehicle battery anodes.

These developments underscore the growing tensions between China and the US, with both countries vying for dominance in the high-tech and semiconductor sectors. It also highlights China's determination to protect its own interests and control critical resources in the face of increasing restrictions imposed by other nations.