China has challenged a move by the United States to block sales of advanced computer chips and chip-making equipment to Chinese companies by launching a trade dispute at the World Trade Organization, calling the measures “trade protectionism.”
The country’s commerce ministry filed a formal complaint against the United States with the WTO on Monday, according to a statement. The two countries are both members of the trade body, which has a mechanism for resolving disputes.
The ministry said, “China is filing a lawsuit at the WTO to resolve China’s concerns through legal means and is a necessary way to defend its legitimate rights and interests”.
On October 7, the Biden administration unveiled a sweeping set of export controls that ban Chinese companies from buying advanced chips and chip-making equipment without a license.
The rules also restrict the ability of US citizens or green card holders to support the “development or production” of chips at certain manufacturing facilities in China.
US officials say the export controls were intended to protect national security interests.
Chips are a growing source of tension between the United States and China. In recent years, Washington has turned up the pressure on China’s tech sector by limiting access to cutting-edge chip components and machinery.
Before the October sanctions, the US government had already banned sales of certain tech products to specific Chinese companies, such as Huawei. It also ordered top chipmakers Nvidia and AMD to halt their shipments to China.
To secure its own chip supplies, Beijing has stepped up efforts to boost domestic semiconductor production in recent years.
Writing by Tersoo Nicholas