China warns Netherlands over blocked ASML export
The statement was made in an interview conducted by Het Financieele Dagblad and is a reference to the refusal – so far – by the Dutch government to renew a “dual-use” license allowing ASML to export an extreme ultraviolet lithography stepper to China.
It is believed that foundry chip maker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (Shanghai, China) had an EUV stepper on order with ASML for some time. ASML’s Chinese export license had expired on June 30 2019 and no new license was granted in the following eight-week period during which a renewal would normally be considered. This followed a six-month period of lobbying of the Dutch government by the United States administration (see US lobbied hard to deny China EUV lithography).
In the Het Financieele Dagblad article Chinese ambassador Xu Hong was quoted saying: “We are concerned that the Netherlands is politicizing our trade relationship under American pressure. If this movement continues it will of course negatively affect bilateral relations.”
There is some hope of an easing of the situation as the US and China on Wednesday signed a “phase-one” trade deal after two-years of a rumbling trade dispute. However, the deal is preliminary and only covers some aspects of their trade and only removes some tariffs. Technology generally and ASML’s vital role in semiconductor manufacturing in particular are likely to remain issues of contention.
Next: Phase-one deal
The phase-one deal does not address the “Made in China 2025” initiative or the US ban on the purchase of telecommunications equipment from Huawei. Made in China 2025 has the goal of reducing Chinese dependence on overseas technology suppliers and establishing world-leading technology companies and Huawei is the telecommunications company that has already risen to a number one position.
At present China’s chip companies cannot make leading-edge chips themselves and buy the most advanced manufacturing capacity from foundries TSMC in Taiwan and Samsung in South Korea. Taiwan is not recognized by China as an independent country and is seen as a rogue state that it will one day take back under control.
With Washington determined to preserve the United States’ leadership position for as long as possible, access to technology remains an issue.
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