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Alexander Wang

Alexander Wang is special counsel with Covington's Beijing office and specializes in antitrust/competition law, government affairs and regulatory matters. Alexander is experienced in advising clients in a broad array of regulatory matters such as antitrust/competition and national security review/FDI screening in connection with cross-border trade and investment.

Previously Alexander served as an official of the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the Anti-Monopoly Bureau (predecessor of the now State Administration for Market Regulation, or SAMR), and the Office of Anti-Monopoly Commission of China’s State Council, where he participated in handling cases, making rules, and shaping policies in connection with China’s antitrust review of M&As and national security review of foreign investments. He also coordinated the antitrust law enforcement and competition policy making among the State Council and sixteen member ministries of the Anti-Monopoly Commission. Alexander has a deep and unique understanding of the way government mechanisms operate, and maintained sound working relationships with Chinese major regulatory authorities.

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On July 3, 2023, China’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) and General Administration of Customs (“GAC”) announced restrictions on the export of gallium and germanium. Starting August 1, 2023, Chinese exporters of gallium, germanium, and certain related chemical compounds must obtain export licenses from MOFCOM before exporting these materials.

Gallium and germanium are “minor metals” produced as a byproduct during the refining process of other metals, such as zinc and aluminum. Gallium and germanium are integral to producing semiconductor wafers, integrated circuits, light-emitting diodes, electric vehicles, solar cells, fiber-optic cables, and other electronic components. The United States classifies both metals as critical to U.S. economic and national security.

While China’s announcement does not explicitly target any country, the government has said the restrictions are necessary to protect China’s national security, leading many observers to believe they may be a response to export controls on semiconductors imposed by the United States in October 2022 and similar measures undertaken by U.S. allies, including Japan and the Netherlands. The China Daily quoted a former Chinese vice minister of commerce as saying, “This is just the beginning of China’s countermeasures, and China’s tool box has many more types of measures available. If the high-tech restrictions on China become tougher in the future, China’s countermeasures will also escalate.” 

China’s Latest Export Measures

These new export restrictions are partly based on China’s Foreign Trade Law and, in particular, the 2020 Export Control Law, which authorizes the government to impose restrictions on exports of certain items to “safeguard national security and interests, fulfill international obligations such as non-proliferation, and strengthen and standardize export controls.”  According to the announcement, beginning August 1, 2023, exporters of gallium metal, germanium metal, and 12 associated compounds will be required to obtain licenses from MOFCOM prior to export from China. The announcement of the export restrictions details the specific customs classification codes of covered commodities to help exporters determine whether an item will be subject to the new restrictions. Notably, the new rules apply only to these specific commodities, not to finished products that incorporate them.Continue Reading China Slaps Export Restrictions on Two Critical Metals