U.S. ramps up pressure on Netherlands to fall in line with China chip policy

Why a globally critical chip firm is caught in the middle of U.S.-China tech battle

Washington has its eyes on the Netherlands, a small but crucial European place that could maintain the key to China’s upcoming in manufacturing cutting-edge semiconductors.

The Netherlands has a populace of just much more than 17 million folks — but is also home to ASML, a star of the worldwide semiconductor offer chain. It makes a large-tech chipmaking equipment that China is eager to have entry to.

The U.S. appears to have persuaded the Netherlands to stop shipments to China for now, but relations glimpse rocky as the Dutch weigh up their financial potential clients if they are minimize off from the world’s 2nd-biggest financial system.

ASML’s critical chip function

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U.S.-Netherlands talks

U.S. force on the Netherlands appears to have started in 2018 below the administration of former President Donald Trump. According to a Reuters report from 2020, the Dutch governing administration withdrew ASML’s license to export its EUV machines to China immediately after substantial lobbying from the U.S. authorities.

Less than Trump, the U.S. begun a trade war with China that morphed into a fight for tech supremacy, with Washington making an attempt to reduce off essential technology supplies to Chinese providers.

Huawei, China’s telecommunications powerhouse, faced export restrictions that starved it of the chips it needed to make smartphones and other items, crippling its cellular company. Trump also applied an export blacklist to reduce off China’s greatest chipmaker, SMIC, from the U.S. technology sector.

President Joe Biden’s administration has taken the assault on China’s chip marketplace just one phase even more.

In Oct, the U.S. Section of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Safety released sweeping regulations necessitating organizations to apply for a license if they want to market certain superior computing semiconductors or relevant producing gear to China.

ASML explained to its U.S. personnel to prevent servicing Chinese clientele immediately after the introduction of these rules.

Stress on the Netherlands to fall in line with U.S. rules proceeds. Alan Estevez, the undersecretary of commerce for marketplace and protection at the U.S. Section of Commerce, and Tarun Chhabra, senior director for technological know-how and national stability at the U.S. National Safety Council, reportedly spoke with Dutch officials this thirty day period.

“Now that the U.S. government has set unilateral close-use controls on U.S. firms, these controls would be futile from their point of view if China could get these devices from ASML or Tokyo Electron (Japan),” Pranay Kotasthane, chairperson of the significant-tech geopolitics software at the Takshashila Institution, told CNBC.

Netherlands Primary Minister Mark Rutte speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden. The U.S. has been placing force on the Netherlands to block exports to China of superior-tech semiconductor tools. The Netherlands is dwelling to ASML, a person of the most significant organizations in the international semiconductor source chain.

Susan Walsh | AFP | Getty Visuals

“Hence the U.S. government would want to transform these unilateral controls into multilateral kinds by having nations this sort of as the Netherlands, South Korea, and Japan on board.”

The National Safety Council declined to comment when contacted by CNBC, whilst the Department of Commerce did not respond to a ask for for comment.

A spokesperson for the Netherlands’ Ministry of Overseas Affairs said it does not comment on visits by officers. The ministry did not reply to additional queries from CNBC.


Last week, U.S. Secretary of Point out Antony Blinken hailed the “developing convergence in the tactic to the worries that China poses,” specifically with the European Union.

But the photo from the Netherlands does not look as rosy.

“Obviously we are weighing our own interests, our countrywide security interest is of utmost importance, of course we have economic interests as you may possibly fully grasp and the geopolitical variable usually plays a part as well,” Liesje Schreinemacher, minister for overseas trade and improvement cooperation of the Netherlands, explained last 7 days.

She included that Beijing is “an essential trade spouse.”

CNBC’s Silvia Amaro contributed to this report.

Eleanore Beatty

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