Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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In a strong-worded statement, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao condemned Japan’s semiconductor export controls, labeling them as a “wrongdoing” that “seriously violated” international economic and trade rules. The remarks were made during Wang’s discussions with Japanese Trade Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura at the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference held in Detroit on May 26.

Japan, alongside the Netherlands, had previously agreed in January to align with U.S. export controls, which restrict the sale of certain chipmaking tools to China. Additionally, Japan has imposed limitations on the export of 23 types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment to its neighboring country.

These export restrictions were initially imposed by the United States to impede China’s progress in developing supercomputers capable of facilitating the advancement of nuclear weapons systems and artificial intelligence. Japan has refrained from explicitly singling out China in its statements concerning these controls, stating that its actions are driven solely by its commitment to contribute to international peace and stability.

The recent statement issued by the Chinese commerce ministry emphasized China’s willingness to collaborate with Japan on promoting practical cooperation in vital economic and trade areas. This conciliatory gesture suggests that China seeks to foster better relations with Japan despite their differences on this particular issue.

Meanwhile, Japanese Trade Minister Nishimura held discussions with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on Friday, during which the two officials agreed to enhance cooperation in research and development related to advanced chips and technologies like quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

During his participation in the summit, Minister Wang also met with Secretary Raimondo and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. In these meetings, he expressed criticism of U.S. economic and trade policies towards China, including the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework that deliberately excludes China and aims to establish a U.S.-centric alternative to its influence.

Earlier this month, the United States, Japan, and other members of the Group of Seven (G7) advanced nations reached an agreement to “de-risk” their dependence on China while stopping short of completely decoupling from the world’s second-largest economy across various sectors, from chips to minerals. This move reflects a growing trend among advanced nations to reduce their exposure to China’s economic influence.

As tensions persist between China and Japan over semiconductor export controls, the outcome of these discussions and negotiations will have significant implications not only for the two nations but also for the broader global economic landscape. The delicate balance between trade restrictions and international cooperation continues to shape the future of the semiconductor industry and the relationships between major economic powers.

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