Japan, the United States, South Korea and Taiwan have held the first meeting of senior officials under a new U.S.-led framework to help ensure a stable supply of semiconductors, Japan's industry ministry said Monday.

Officials from industry organizations in the four economies took part in the virtual conference of the "Chip 4" alliance on Feb. 16 to discuss ways to maintain supply chain resilience in times of natural disasters and other contingencies, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said, though it did not elaborate.

The initiative is part of a U.S. strategy to build a resilient chip supply chain and reduce Chinese involvement. Governments of the four economies, home to the world's leading chipmakers and suppliers of relevant materials and equipment, joined the meeting as observers, according to the ministry.

Washington has introduced a sweeping set of export controls on certain high-end semiconductors and chip technologies that Beijing could use to enhance its military systems.

Last September, the United States convened a preparatory meeting of the group, according to media reports, after a global chip shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on disrupted supplies of chips used in a variety of essential goods from smartphones to missiles.

Concern over a contingency in the Taiwan Strait has also raised fears about what would happen if China attempts to take Taiwan, prompting many countries and regions to review the supply chains of essential goods.