A Dutch semiconductor supply company confirmed on Sunday that U.S., Dutch and Japanese officials were close to reaching a deal to limit China’s access to technology used to make computer chips.
A leading maker of semiconductor production equipment based in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, said it was possible a deal had been reached, but it did not know any details about the deal or how it would affect ASML’s business.
ASML is the only producer in the world of machines that use extreme ultraviolet lithography to manufacture advanced semiconductor chips. Since 2019, the Dutch government has banned ASML from exporting the equipment to China, but the company is still shipping lower-quality lithography systems to China.
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The Biden administration imposed export controls in October to limit China’s ability to acquire advanced chips that it says could be used to make weapons, violate human rights and improve the speed and accuracy of its military logistics. It urged allies such as Japan and the Netherlands to follow suit.
China responded angrily, saying trade restrictions would disrupt supply chains and the global economic recovery.
“We hope relevant countries will do the right thing and jointly safeguard the multilateral trading system and maintain the stability of the global industrial and supply chains,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said this month. “This will also help protect their own long-term interests.”
ASML has research and manufacturing centers in Beijing and Shenzhen, China, and a regional headquarters in Hong Kong.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on Friday Dutch and Japanese officials were in Washington for talks led by President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jack Sullivan, on “safety and security in emerging technologies,” aid to Ukraine and efforts of other countries.
“We’re grateful they were able to come to Washington and have these talks,” Kirby said.
Kirby declined to say whether the U.S. was close to reaching a deal to tighten export controls on semiconductor technology. Biden met separately with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte earlier this month to push for stronger export controls.
At a news conference last week, Rutte was asked about the talks, but said they involved “such sensitive material … the Dutch government chose to choose very carefully the high-quality technology to communicate about this, which meant taking very In limited ways.”
U.S. officials say China is spending heavily to develop its fledgling semiconductor producers but has so far been unable to produce the high-end chips used in the most advanced smartphones and other devices.