Japan and the Netherlands join US with tough chip controls on China

According to Japan-based nonprofit cooperative news agency Kyodo News, Japan and the Netherlands have decided to join the United States in restricting the shipments of high-end semiconductor technology to China. 

The agreement was reached, according to Kyodo News, after the United States disclosed extensive export restrictions on some cutting-edge processors that China might use to train artificial intelligence systems and power cutting-edge military and surveillance applications.

The Biden administration in October imposed export controls to limit China’s ability to access advanced chips, which it says can be used to make weapons, commit human rights abuses and improve the speed and accuracy of its military logistics. It urged allies like Japan and the Netherlands to follow suit.

China has responded angrily, saying trade curbs will disrupt supply chains and the global economic recovery.

We hope the relevant countries will do the right thing and work together to uphold the multilateral trade regime and safeguard the stability of the global industrial and supply chains, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said earlier this month. This will also serve to protect their own long-term interests.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Friday that Dutch and Japanese officials were in Washington for talks led by President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, that covered the safety and security of emerging technologies, efforts to aid Ukraine and other issues.

We’re grateful that they were able to come to D.C. and to have these talks, Kirby said.

Kirby declined to say whether there was a deal on tighter export controls on semiconductor technology. This month, Biden met separately with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to push for tighter export controls.

In a press conference last week, Rutte was asked about the talks but said they involve such sensitive material high-quality technology that the Dutch government chooses to communicate about it very carefully and that means in a very limited way.

Leading manufacturer of equipment for the creation of semiconductors ASML, based in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, said on Sunday that it was unaware of the specifics of the arrangement or how it might impact ASML’s operations. 

The only manufacturer of equipment that uses intense UV lithography to create cutting-edge semiconductor chips is ASML. Since 2019, ASML has been unable to export that machinery to China, despite the fact that it was still sending inferior lithography systems there. 

Beijing and Shenzhen, China, both house research and production facilities for ASML, in addition to its regional office in Hong Kong.  According to U.S. officials, China is investing substantially in the growth of its young semiconductor manufacturers but so far is unable to produce the high-end chips used in the most cutting-edge smartphones and other gadgets.

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