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China Tells Netherlands to Continue Servicing Chip Tools, Pushes Back on Controls

Beijing this week urged the Netherlands to continue allowing its companies to service and repair semiconductor equipment in China, saying Dutch companies should fulfill their “contractual obligations” with their Chinese customers.

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The comments, made March 27 during a meeting between Chinese and Dutch officials, came the same day the U.S. said it was trying to convince the Netherlands and other allies to stop servicing those advanced chip tools (see 2403270038).

China said the meeting between Commerce Minister Wang Wentao and Geoffrey van Leeuwen, the Dutch foreign trade minister, focused on “in-depth exchanges of views on issues such as exporting lithography machines to China and strengthening cooperation in the semiconductor industry,” according to an unofficial translation of a news release. The Netherlands should “uphold the spirit of contract, support companies in fulfilling their contractual obligations, and ensure the normal conduct of lithography machine trade,” China’s Commerce Ministry said, referencing the advanced lithography tools made by Netherlands-based major chip equipment maker ASML.

Luwen, according to the news release, told China that Dutch export controls “do not target any country.” Its export control decisions are “based on independent assessments and are designed to minimize the impact on the global semiconductor industry chain and supply chain under the premise of safety and controllability,” China said.

The meeting came the same day as a separate meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, where Xinping warned the Netherlands about imposing strict export controls on chip equipment.

“Artificially creating technological barriers and cutting off industrial and supply chains will only lead to division and confrontation,” Xi said during the meeting, according to an unofficial translation of a report from Xinhua, a state-owned news outlet. “The Chinese people also have the legitimate right to development, and no force can stop China's scientific and technological development and progress.”

After the meeting, Rutte declined to describe specifically what the two leaders discussed, according to a March 27 Associated Press report. “What I can tell you is that ... when we have to take measures, that they are never aimed at one country specifically, that we always try to make sure that the impact is limited, is not impacting the supply chain, and therefore is not impacting the overall economic relationship,” Rutte told reporters, according to the AP.

The Netherlands earlier this year published new export controls over certain advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment in a step aimed at bringing Dutch policies more closely in line with strict U.S. export licensing requirements against China (see 2306300028).