Li_DanLi_Dan ・ Mar. 29, 2024
Xi Tells Dutch PM No Force Can Stop Pace of China's Tech Progress as Officials Talk on Lithography Machine Issue
In meet with the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development, Chinese Commerce minister Wang Wentao expressed hope for the Netherlands to support the fulfillment of contractual obligations by Dutch companies, and ensure normal trade in lithography machines.

TMTPost -- Chinese leader cautioned any attempt to curb China’s high-tech industries would go in vain during Dutch senior officials’ visit to China as U.S. was reported to press the Dutch government to tighten export controls of semiconductor technology. 

Credit:Xinhua News Agency

Credit:Xinhua News Agency

The Chinese people also have legitimate development rights, and no force can stop the pace of China's scientific and technological progress, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, adding China will continue to pursue a win-win approach, open wider to the outside world at a high level, and share development dividends with all parties, reported state media Xinhua News Agency.  

In his face-to-face meet with Rutte in Beijing on Wednesday, Xi stressed that economic globalization may encounter headwinds, but the historical trend will not change. There is no way out for "decoupling and breaking the chain," and opening-up and cooperation are the only choice, Xi said. The Chinese president claimed China always believes that the mindset of zero-sum game characterized by binary opposition has long been a thing of the past, and a genuinely secure world should be one featuring deep integration and interdependence. Creating scientific and technological barriers and severing industrial and supply chains will only lead to division and confrontation, he warned

Xi hailed the Netherlands as a veritable "gateway" for China-EU cooperation, and a party that China is ready to maintain exchanges at various levels with, adhere to communications and dialogue, and pursue mutual benefits and win-win results. He said China is willing to expand imports of high-quality goods from the Netherlands and welcomes Dutch enterprises to invest in China, adding it is hoped that the Dutch side will provide a fair and transparent business environment for Chinese enterprises. He urged the two sides to promote traditional cooperation in such fields as agriculture, water conservancy and energy, and tap the potential of cooperation in artificial intelligence, green transformation and silver economy, among others.

Rutte said that "decoupling and breaking the chain" is not a policy choice of the Dutch government, since any act undermining China's development interests will only boomerang. He noted bilateral cooperation between the Netherlands and China shows huge potential and prospect. He said the Netherlands values friendly ties with China, adding that the country is willing to deepen its partnership with China, facilitate personnel exchanges, strengthen cooperation in such fields as economy, trade and carbon emission reduction.

The Ministry of Commerce of China released Thursday a readout about Chinese Commerce minister Wang Wentao’s meet with Geoffrey van Leeuwen, the visiting Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.  Wang had an in-depth exchange of views with his Dutch counterpart on the export of lithography machines and ways to strengthen cooperation in the semiconductor industry, according to the readout.

Wang said that China appreciates the Netherlands’ commitment to free trade, and regards it as a reliable economic and trade partner. He expressed hope for the Netherlands to uphold the spirit of contract, support the fulfillment of contractual obligations by Dutch companies, and ensure normal trade in lithography machines. He stressed it’s important to prevent the generalization of the concept of security, jointly maintain the stability of the global semiconductor industrial chains and supply chains, and promote the sustained and healthy development of bilateral economic and trade relations.

Van Luewen said that the Netherlands, a kingdom built on trade, advocates free trade and attaches great importance to economic and trade cooperation with China. Calling China one of the most important trading partners, van Luewen  said the Netherlands is willing to continue to be a reliable partner of China. He stated Dutch export controls do not target any country, and the decisions are made based on an independent assessment and in a safe and controllable manner to minimize the impact on the global semiconductor industrial chains and supply chains. He expressed hope that the two countries will expand cooperation in green transformation and elderly care services.

The issue of lithography machines was exaggerated as ASML Holding NV, the world’s leading lithography machine manufacturer, was subject to more export controls. ASML confirmed at the beginning of January that a  license for the shipment of NXT:2050i and NXT: 2100i has been revoked by the Dutch government, affecting a small number of customers in China. The latest U.S. export rules, which was published on October 17, 2023, impose restrictions on certain mid critical deep ultraviolet (DUV) immersion lithography systems for a limited number of advanced production facilities, ASML said in the statement.

ASML is currently the only manufacturer of Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography systems in the world. As a key for the future lithography technology and advanced process, EUV lithography is the most expensive step in making the advanced microchips that power data centers, cars and iPhones.

It was reported that pressure from the U.S. government pushed the Netherlands last summer to announce plans to prohibit ASML from shipping some of its lithography machines to China. ASML has to apply for export licenses prior to shipments of DUV machines under new export restrictions introduced by the Dutch government in March 2023. New export control, which came into force in September, mainly impact purchases of high-end DUV lithography systems for advanced chip manufacturing process, excluding versions older than NXT: 2100i, per ASML’s clarification in January. ASML had to cancel shipments of some of its machines to China at the request of the Biden administration, weeks before export bans on the high-end chipmaking equipment came into effect in January, Bloomberg cited sources.

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