China presses Japan to reverse its policy on chip export restrictions

China’s foreign minister warns his counterpart not to do to others what they don’t want to do to them.China has attempted to dissuade Japan from imposing big curbs on exports of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, as part of a fast-evolving geopolitical battle over access to the world’s most advanced chips.

Qin Gang, the Chinese foreign minister, made the move during Yoshimasa Hayashi’s visit to Beijing. This was the first time a high-ranking Japanese diplomat had visited China in over three years.

Hayashi was told by Qin that the US had tried in the past to “brutally suppress Japan’s semiconductor industry” and that it was now trying to “repeat its old tricks against China.

According to a Sunday statement on China’s website, Qin stated that “Don’t do anything to others that you don’t want them to do to to you.” He said that the “blockade” would only “encourage China’s determination and self-sufficiency”.

The comments signal Beijing is taking a more active role in the face of a US sanctions regime that since late last year has sought to restrict global semiconductor-related exports to the Chinese mainland, as relations between the two powers deteriorate sharply.

Hayashi’s visit was made after Japan had revealed restrictions regarding exporting 23 types of technology as part of a agreement with the USA and the Netherlands.

Export controls will have a greater impact on Japanese companies than expected. High-end equipment producers must obtain licenses for all regions. This would allow the Japanese authorities to monitor machinery sales to countries that could produce high-end chips for military purposes in China and other parts of the world.

Japan has taken care not to make public reference to the agreement between the US, Japan and the Netherlands. Many Japanese companies rely on China for significant growth. A growing number chief executives are concerned that the spiralling chip war could make it more difficult for them to bridge the gap between China and the US.

China is trying to dissuade the Netherlands from joining the deal. Tan Jian, China’s ambassador to the Netherlands, warned last month that there would be “consequences” for the Netherlands if the deal was not renegotiated.

The Cyberspace Administration of China launched late Friday, a review of imports by Idaho-based chipmaker Micron Technologies. This is another sign of Beijing’s pressure over the restrictions. Micron recently warned about the possibility of losing access key materials made in China.

American and foreign companies in China have looked into options to ensure supply chains are maintained in the event there is a significant decoupling of the two powers. China’s officials have also tried to change their tone toward the private sector after the country’s lifting of its zero Covid restrictions.

According to Japanese officials, Hayashi raised a protest about the recent Chinese detention of an Astellas employee from Japan during meetings with Qin and Li Qiang.