Minister Hoekstra on restrictions on exports from ASML to China: Goods should not be misused for military technology

Minister Liesje Schreinmacher (Foreign Trade) told the House of Representatives on Wednesday that the export of certain machines from Veldoven-based chip machine maker ASML to China was restricted. On Good Morning Netherlands, Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra notes that he maintains close contact not only with allies Japan and the United States, but also with other countries on this issue. According to him, China has not yet announced sanctions.

At the end of January, it was already leaked that the Netherlands, the US and Japan had reached an agreement to limit the export of chip technology to China. Washington already banned the export of chip technology to China in October, fearing it could be used for military purposes.

Hoekstra notes that he spoke with his fellow foreign minister in China last week (Qin Gang, ed.). “Of course they’re looking out for their own interests,” he says. “We don’t just want to keep ASML’s strategic leadership. We also think that it is reasonable that the military technology sector should not misuse the material for commercial use.

Advanced machines

The Americans also looked to the Netherlands, as ASML was a global leader in the development of chip machines. The move by the government is for ASML to seek permission from the government to export more advanced DUV machines. Older versions of this engine may still be exported to China.

Export of latest and modern chip machines from ASML to China has not been possible for some time. In early 2020, it was announced that the Netherlands had decided to stop exporting so-called EUV machines to China after strong pressure from the United States.

The cabinet intends to try to finalize the export control plan before summer.

‘ASML not seriously affected by new step’

ASML itself expects that it will take some time for the law and regulations to come into force. In a reply, the company said it would apply for an export license to export DUV systems. Jean Dohmen, financial journalist at Het Financieele Dagblad, thinks ASML already suspected this was going to happen. There are indications that the company will not be greatly affected by this new move. “Most of what the company exports is old technology, which is still in high demand and it has everything.”

More broadly, there is “grudging” by companies dealing with modern technology, Dohmen says. “Because in recent years, acquisitions of even the most modern start-ups by companies wholly or partially owned by Chinese companies have also often stalled.”

If you zoom in even further, the fact that China and the US are in a contest over who will become the biggest economic power of the 21st century plays a role. “Last century it was America. China is ambitious and wants to become a technological superpower as well.

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