- The Netherlands has become embroiled in political tensions between the United States and China, with the former wanting to ensure that the most advanced chip technology is not used by Beijing.
- Foreign Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher said: “The existing export control framework for specific equipment used for semiconductor manufacturing needs to be expanded, in the interest of national and international security.”
- China has been working to strengthen its domestic semiconductor industry, but it lags far behind Taiwan, South Korea and the US.
An employee stands by cables in an ASML Twinscan XT1000 lithography machine, during fabrication at ASML’s factory in Veldhoven, the Netherlands.
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“Given the technological developments and the geopolitical context, the government has come to the conclusion that the existing export control framework for specific equipment used in the manufacture of semiconductors needs to be expanded, in the interest of national and international security,” the ministry said. Foreign Affairs. That is what Minister of Trade Liesje Schreinemacher stated in a letter to the House of Representatives on Wednesday.
While the letter does not refer to China, it comes after pressure from the White House, which imposed export controls in 2022 that denied Beijing access to certain semiconductor chips. At the time, US officials recognized that if other countries did not impose similar restrictions, export controls would lose their effectiveness over time.
Since 2018, the US has reportedly asked the Dutch government to prevent ASML from shipping its extreme ultraviolet lithography machines to China. ASML has not shipped the equipment to China so far.
In the wake of the Dutch government’s announcement, ASML said in a statement that “it will take time for these controls to become law and come into effect.”
“Based on today’s announcement, our expectation of the Dutch government’s licensing policy and the current market situation, we do not expect these measures to have a material effect on our financial outlook,” the company said on Wednesday, adding that “the additional export controls do not cover all immersion lithography tools, but only what is termed ‘most advanced’.”
ASML said it is not clear what the Dutch government means by the “most advanced” machines.
However, it said the regulations mean it must apply for a license to export its so-called immersion deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machine, which is used to manufacture 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 appropriated data related to its own technology.
China has been working to strengthen its domestic semiconductor industry, but it lags far behind Taiwan, South Korea and the US.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday that it is against the politicization of economic and trade cooperation and hopes that the Netherlands will remain objective, according to Reuters.