President Joe Biden hosted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Tuesday at the White House, where he urged the Netherlands to support new U.S. restrictions on exporting chip-making technology to China, a key part of Washington’s strategy in its rivalry against Beijing.
During a brief appearance in front of reporters before their meeting, Biden said that he and Rutte have been working on “how to keep a free and open Indo-Pacific” to “meet the challenges of China.”
“Simply put, our companies, our countries have been so far just lockstep in what we’ve done in our investment to the future. So today, I look forward to discussing how we can further deepen our relationship and securing our supply chains to strengthen our transatlantic partnership,” he said.
ASML Holding NV, maker of the world’s most advanced semiconductor lithography systems, is headquartered in Veldhoven, making the Netherlands key to Washington’s chip push against Beijing. Ahead of Rutte’s visit, Dutch Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher said the Netherlands is consulting with European and Asian allies and will not automatically accept the new restrictions that the U.S. Commerce Department launched in October.
“You can’t say that they’ve been pressuring us for two years and now we have to sign on the dotted line. And we won’t,” she said.
Rutte did not mention the semiconductor issue ahead of his meeting with Biden, focusing instead on Russia’s invasion on Ukraine, where the NATO allies have been working together to support Kyiv.
“Let’s stay closely together this year,” Rutte said. “And hopefully, things will move forward in a way which is acceptable for Ukraine.”
China is one of ASML’s biggest clients. CEO Peter Wennink in October played down the impact of the U.S. export control regulations.
“Based on our initial assessment, the new restrictions do not amend the rules governing lithography equipment shipped by ASML out of the Netherlands and we expect the direct impact on ASML’s overall 2023 shipment plan to be limited,” he said.
Shoring up allies
Biden has been shoring up allies, including the Netherlands, Japan and South Korea — home to leading companies that play a critical role in the industry’s supply chain — to limit Beijing’s access to advanced semiconductors. Last week he hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who said he backs Biden’s attempt but did not agree to match the sweeping curbs targeting China’s semiconductor and supercomputing industries.
U.S. officials say export restrictions on chips are necessary because China can use semiconductors to advance their military systems, including weapons of mass destruction, and commit human rights abuses.
The October restrictions follow the U.S. Congress’ July passing of the CHIPS Act of 2022 to strengthen domestic semiconductor manufacturing, design and research, and reinforce America’s chip supply chains. The legislation also restricts companies that receive U.S. subsidies from investing in and expanding cutting edge chipmaking facilities in China.
Some information for this story came from AP.