US, allies approach deal to limit chip tech to China
Officials from the US, the Netherlands and Japan are close to an agreement to restrict China’s access to computer chip-making technology, a Dutch semiconductor supplier confirmed on Sunday.
ASML, a leading manufacturer of semiconductor manufacturing equipment based in Veldhoven, The Netherlands, said it was possible that an agreement had already been reached, but that no details were known about the agreement or how it would affect ASML’s business.
ASML is the world’s only manufacturer of machines that use Extreme Ultraviolet Lithography to produce advanced semiconductor chips. The Dutch government has banned ASML from exporting this equipment to China since 2019, but the company had still shipped lower-quality lithography systems to China.
The Biden administration imposed in October export controls to restrict China’s access to advanced chips it says can be used to manufacture weapons, commit human rights abuses and improve the speed and accuracy of its military logistics. It has urged allies like Japan and the Netherlands are following suit.
China has reacted angrilystating that trade restrictions will disrupt supply chains and the global economic recovery.
“We hope relevant countries will do the right thing and work together to uphold the multilateral trade regime and ensure the stability of global industrial and supply chains,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said this month. “This is also to protect their own long-term interests.”
ASML has research and manufacturing centers in Beijing and Shenzhen, China and a regional headquarters in Hong Kong.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Friday Dutch and Japanese officials were in Washington for talks led by President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan that looked at the “security of emerging technologies,” efforts to improve Support of Ukraine and other issues.
“We’re grateful they were able to come to DC and have these conversations,” Kirby said.
Kirby declined to say whether the US was nearing an agreement to tighten export controls on semiconductor technology. Biden earlier this month met separately with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to push for tighter export controls.
In a press conference last week, Rutte was asked about the talks but said it involves “such sensitive material … high quality technology that the Dutch government is communicating about it very carefully and that means in a very limited way”.
US officials say China is spending big bucks to develop its fledgling semiconductor makers but has so far failed to produce the high-end chips used in the most advanced smartphones and other devices.
AP reporters Aamer Madhani in Washington and Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, contributed to this report.
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