China’s government on Thursday criticized the Netherlands for joining Washington in blocking Chinese access to technology to manufacture advanced processor chips on security and human rights grounds.
A Dutch minister told lawmakers Wednesday that exports of equipment that uses ultraviolet light to etch circuits on chips would be restricted on security grounds. ASML of the Netherlands is the only global supplier. Industry experts say a lack of access to ASML's most advanced technology is a serious handicap for China's efforts to develop its own chip industry.
Washington in October blocked Chinese access to U.S. tools to make advanced chips that it said might be used in weapons or in equipment for the ruling Communist Party's surveillance apparatus. The Biden administration is lobbying European and Asian allies to tighten their own controls.
A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman complained that “an individual country,” a reference to the United States, was trying to “safeguard its own hegemony” by abusing national security as an excuse to “deprive China of its right to development.”
“We firmly oppose the Netherlands’s interference and restriction with administrative means of normal economic and trade exchanges between Chinese and Dutch enterprises,” said the spokeswoman, Mao Ning. “We have made complaints to the Dutch side.”
Mao appealed to the Netherlands to “safeguard the stability of the international industrial and supply chain."
ASML’s extreme-ultraviolet, or EUV, equipment uses light to etch microscopically precise circuits into silicon, allowing them to be packed more closely together. That increases their speed and reduces power demand.
The Dutch government has prohibited ASML from exporting its most advanced machines to China since 2019, but the company is allowed to supply lower-quality systems.
Chinese manufacturers can produce low-end chips used in autos and most consumer electronics but not those used in smartphones, servers and other high-end products.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and U.S. President Joe Biden held talks in January on ASML’s chip machines.