Japan, China to Create Framework for Export Control Talks; Fear of Tit-for-tat Escalation

Reuters file photo
Semiconductor chips are seen on a circuit board of a computer in this picture taken on Feb. 25, 2022.

Japan and China have agreed to set up a framework to discuss systems and practices for export controls in the two countries, according to sources.

As tensions grow between China on one side and Japan, the United States and Europe on the other over controls on advanced semiconductors, the new framework for working-level talks will be launched to prevent a tit-for-tat escalation of export curbs.

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, who is visiting the United States for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Ministerial Meeting, and Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao confirmed the framework would be created when they met on Tuesday afternoon local time.

Under the planned framework, the bureau chief-level and section chief-level officials in charge of export controls in Japan and China will hold talks. The bureau chief-level officials are expected to meet at least once a year with the aim of making the meeting a regular event. The first meeting is being arranged for the first half of next year.

The United States and European Union have already created similar frameworks with China, according to the sources.

In October last year, the U.S. government introduced controls on exports of advanced semiconductors to China. This year, Japan and the Netherlands also took steps to tighten export controls. In August, China, in apparent retaliation, introduced export controls on gallium and germanium — rare metals that are used to make advanced semiconductors — and is poised to further expand its restrictions.

If Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet on the sidelines of the APEC summit, they will likely discuss export controls. The two leaders are expected to welcome the creation of the framework.

“China’s export control practices are opaque in many respects, which is why it’s important to have the chance to seek transparency and fairness,” said a Japanese government official, referring to the planned dialogue framework.