AMSTERDAM: The Netherlands will defend its economic interests when it comes to the sales of chip equipment to China, says a senior Dutch official, further evidence of the country’s resistance to meekly following Washington’s attempts to cut off China from semiconductor technology.
The European country is home to ASML Holding NV, which dominates the market for one-of-a-kind, cutting-edge chipmaking equipment that has become a focus of the US government’s attempts to limit China.
Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher told lawmakers on Tuesday that the Netherlands would make its own decision regarding ASML’s chip gear sales to China amid trade rule talks with the United States and other allies.
“It is important that we defend our own interests – our national safety, but also our economic interests,” Schreinemacher told lawmakers at the parliament in The Hague.
“If we put that in a European Union (EU) basket and negotiate with the United States and in the end it turns out we give away deep ultraviolet lithography machines to the United States, we are worse off.”
Deep ultraviolet systems are the second-most-advanced chip production machines that Veldhoven, Netherlands-based ASML manufactures, and the equipment is required to make a wide range of semiconductors. Schreinemacher’s comments appeared to indicate growing Dutch objections to the US call for the Netherlands to align with Washington on export controls to undermine Beijing’s ambition in building a chip industry at home and improve its military capabilities.
The European country wants to maintain access to China as a major market.
Last week, the Dutch minister said the United States shouldn’t expect the Netherlands to unquestionably adopt its approach to China export restrictions.
While ASML hasn’t sold any of its most advanced extreme ultraviolet lithography machines to China because the Dutch government has refused to grant it a licence under US pressure, the company can still sell less sophisticated chipmaking systems to the Asian country.
However, US officials have been pressuring the Dutch government to ban the sales of immersion lithography machines, the most advanced kind of gear in ASML’s deep ultraviolet lineup, Bloomberg News has reported.
The Biden administration has been working to get allies including the Netherlands and Japan to adopt the sweeping measures it unveiled in early October to ban more chip machines for China.
The Netherlands is key to the struggle because ASML is one of a handful of companies that dominate the market for semiconductor-manufacturing equipment. — Bloomberg