CHINA on Thursday criticized a US trade mission to Manila for dissuading American allies including the Philippines from working with the economic superpower on semiconductors, accusing its trade rival of “economic bullying.”

“Instead of focusing on economic cooperation with the Philippines, the US Presidential Trade and Investment Mission dwelled on so-called national security and sounded clarion calls for ganging up against China’s technological development,” the Chinese Embassy in Manila said in a statement.

The embassy said US restrictions on semiconductor exports to China is a “clear case of economic bullying.”

The Philippines is one of seven countries that the US is working with to diversify its semiconductor supply chain under the CHIPS and Science Act.

Under the law, the US will shell out $52.7 billion in subsidies to boost chip manufacturing and entice chipmakers in China to move to the US or other friendly countries.

It also bars funding recipients from expanding semiconductor manufacturing to China and countries considered as national security threats to the US, according to PwC’s website.

“The Presidential Trade and Investment Mission was an opportunity to reaffirm the importance the United States places on strong bilateral trade and investment relationship with the Philippines,” US Embassy spokesperson Kanishka Gangopadhyay told BusinessWorld in a Viber message.

American companies are keen on investing in the Philippines’ semiconductor industry and would support doubling the number of packaging, testing and assembly facilities in the country, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo told a business forum in Makati on Tuesday during her two-day visit with the trade mission.

During his visit to Manila last month, US State Department Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Jose W. Fernandez said high energy costs are keeping semiconductor companies and miners from investing in the Philippines.

The Philippines’ top exports in January were electronic products, accounting for $3.42 billion or 58.2% of total exports. Last year, the country’s electronic product exports hit $41.9 billion or 57% of total exports. 

“The US should immediately cease the wrong practice of politicizing… economic, trade and science technology issues,” the Chinese Embassy said.

“It should refrain from enticing its allies into decoupling from China,” it said. “China stands ready to take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez