For those who came in late, the US has become increasingly concerned that its world dominance will be disturbed by Chinese industrial power and decided to use its higher tech innovation as a boot to slow the Chinese tiger. It also worked with western allies to close down cheap and cheerful chinese communication operators like Huawei in favour of more expensive western operators. After all, that is what free enterprise is all about.
China’s commerce ministry said its WTO complaint was a legal and necessary measure to defend its “legitimate rights and interests,” after the US Department of Commerce introduced sanctions in early October to make it harder for China to buy or develop advanced semiconductors.
The complaint is the first step in a WTO mediation process, in which the case would normally be put before the Appellate Body. But that body has been suspended due to disagreements among member states, and Kostrzewa said China’s complaint was unlikely to “create any legal effect” unless the group resumed its work.
The move comes just weeks after US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping used their first in-person meeting as leaders to signal a joint desire to improve ties between the world’s two biggest economies after relations plunged to a multi-decade low.
China’s complaint also comes days after a landmark ruling in which a WTO panel backed Beijing against Washington. In a report published on 9 December, the WTO said the US was not justified in arguing the Trump administration’s 2018 tariffs—on steel and aluminum from China and other countries—were necessary to protect its national security.
The export controls were aimed at hampering China’s ability to use high-end US technology for military applications such as nuclear warhead modeling and weapons production. More recently, the fact that US tech has ended up in Russian weapons fired in Ukraine presumably from Chinese sources was seen as an example of the same "problem."
The measures prevent US companies from exporting technology to Chinese groups engaged in producing high-end chips in almost every modern device, including the latest electric vehicles, smartphones, and artificial intelligence.
The US has also been negotiating with Japan and the Netherlands on an export controls agreement that would see the countries bar their companies from selling chipmaking tools for advanced Chinese semiconductors. The White House national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that the US had been talking to its partners about a “broad alignment” on China.