China Introduces Export Controls on Graphite Amid Rising Geopolitical Tensions
In a move that is set to exacerbate the geopolitical tensions between China and the United States, China has imposed export controls on graphite, a crucial material used in the production of electric-vehicle batteries. This decision comes as a direct response to the US-led restrictions on technology sales to Chinese companies.
As the dominant player in global supply chains for this mineral, China has announced that it will require special export permits for three specific grades of graphite. The Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs released this information on Friday, citing national security as the grounds for imposing these new export controls. This action not only highlights China’s stronghold on the global supplies of numerous critical minerals but also signifies its determination to assert its dominance in the face of mounting tension with the US over tech supply chains.
According to the US Geological Survey’s 2023 annual report on the mineral, China accounted for approximately 65% of graphite supplies in 2022, solidifying its position as the leading producer of this vital resource. In some finished graphite products, China’s market share is even closer to 100%, indicating its overwhelming control in this industry.
This recent move by China follows the Biden administration’s decision to tighten controls on the export of cutting-edge artificial intelligence chips to China. In response to these restrictions, Beijing has not held back in expressing its dissatisfaction towards Washington’s actions. The Chinese commerce ministry accused the US of constantly overstating the concept of national security, abusing export control measures, and engaging in unilateral bullying acts, which China vehemently objects to and is strongly dissatisfied with.
While Chinese officials remain cautious of potential retaliation that could harm their own companies, Beijing has begun leveraging its dominance over various materials and resources as a response to mounting pressure. In July, similar restrictions were placed by Beijing on gallium and germanium, metals that are crucial in industries such as electric vehicles, microchips, and military weapon systems. Once again, the Chinese government cited national security concerns as the driving force behind these restrictions.
The announcement of export controls on graphite has already had an impact on the market. Following the news, shares of China Graphite Group, listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, rose by 14.3% on Friday, reflecting the significance of China’s dominance in this sector.
The implications of China’s export controls on graphite and its growing dominance in critical mineral supplies will continue to reverberate across the global stage. As tensions between Beijing and Washington escalate, it remains to be seen how these actions will shape the future of tech supply chains and international relations. Both countries find themselves at a crossroads where their actions and decisions will undoubtedly have wide-ranging consequences for numerous industries and economies around the world.