China Tightens Its Chokehold on Graphite Needed for EV Batteries – by Wenxin Fan and Sha Hua (Wall Street Journal – October 20, 2023)

Beijing bolsters export restrictions on strategic mineral days after U.S. squeezed Chinese access to advanced semiconductors

HONG KONG—China is strengthening restrictions on exports of graphite, a key mineral needed for the production of electric-vehicle batteries and fuel cells, the latest move in an intensifying global tussle over the building blocks of critical technologies.

Citing national-security concerns, China’s Commerce Ministry said Friday that exports of several categories of natural and synthetic graphite materials would require permits under a system used to control trade in items with dual civilian and military uses starting Dec. 1.

The restrictions cover a small but valuable portion of the graphite industry that China dominates and that has uses in strategic markets ranging from energy storage to nuclear power.

The curbs come days after the U.S. tightened restrictions on Chinese companies’ access to semiconductors, including stopping the sales of artificial-intelligence chips made by Nvidia and Intel. It arrives as the EV supply chain becomes a source of intensifying friction between Beijing and the West, with Chinese manufacturers and battery makers going global and Europe last month launching an antisubsidy probe into Chinese EV makers.

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