- The Netherlands has become embroiled in political tensions between the United States and China, with the former seeking to ensure that the most advanced chip technology is not used by Beijing.
- Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher said “the existing export control framework for specific equipment used for the manufacture of semiconductors must be extended, in the interest of national and international security”.
- China has made efforts to strengthen its domestic semiconductor industry, but it lags far behind Taiwan, South Korea and the United States.
An employee stands by the cables inside an ASML Twinscan XT1000 lithography machine, during manufacturing at ASML’s factory in Veldhoven, the Netherlands.
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“In view of technological developments and the geopolitical context, the government has come to the conclusion that the existing framework for controlling exports of specific equipment used for the manufacture of semiconductors must be expanded, in the interest of national security. and international,” the country’s foreign ministry said. Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher said in a letter to parliament on Wednesday.
Although the letter does not refer to China, it follows pressure from the White House, which in 2022 imposed export controls that limit Beijing’s access to certain semiconductor chips. At the time, US officials acknowledged that unless other countries imposed similar restrictions, export controls would become less effective over time.
Since 2018, the United States has reportedly asked the Dutch government to stop ASML from shipping its extreme ultraviolet lithography machines to China. ASML has not yet shipped the equipment to China.
Following the Dutch government’s announcement, ASML said in a statement that “it will take time for these controls to be translated into legislation and come into force”.
“Based on today’s announcement, our expectations regarding the Dutch government’s licensing policy and the current market situation, we do not expect these measures to have a significant effect. on our financial outlook,” the company said Wednesday, adding that “additional export controls do not affect all immersion lithography tools but only the so-called ‘most advanced’ ones.
ASML said it is unclear what the Dutch government means by the “most advanced” machines.
However, he said the regulations mean he will have to apply for a license to export his so-called deep-ultraviolet (DUV) immersion lithography machine, which is used to make memory chips. These chips are used in a plethora of devices, from smartphones to laptops and servers, and could eventually be used for artificial intelligence applications.
Last month, ASML said a former employee in China misappropriated data related to its proprietary technology.
China has made efforts to strengthen its domestic semiconductor industry, but it lags far behind Taiwan, South Korea and the United States.
China’s foreign ministry said on Thursday it opposes the politicization of economic and trade cooperation and hopes the Netherlands will maintain an objective stance, according to Reuters.