ASML's growth in China a rebuttal to US interference in global chip sector
Published: Jun 07, 2022 11:12 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Dutch chip lithography leader ASML said Monday that all of its projects in China are progressing as scheduled, and it plans to recruit more than 200 employees this year to expand business in the market, according to Chinese news outlet The Paper.

Against the backdrop of the US is trying every means to recklessly stop ASML from shipping any of its most cutting edge lithography systems to China, the company's increasing investment in the market fully demonstrates that no matter how reluctant the US to see, global giants in the semiconductor sector like ASML are seeing business expansion in China, the world's largest consumer of semiconductors.

Business is business. From a return on investment point of view, it's a perfectly reasonable choice for ASML to expand business in China. ASML's sales in Chinese mainland took up 34 percent of its total lithography system sales in the first quarter of this year, according to media reports. 

China and the US are indeed in a fierce technological competition, and the semiconductor industry is bearing the brunt of that pressure. The US government has never bothered to hide its plans to stifle the development of China's chip sector. Yet, the US chip hegemony has become the culprit in disrupting the global industrial chain. The arbitrary political interference of the US government in the industry has clearly become the biggest concern for many companies. The US chip hegemony has caused and escalated the global chip supply chain crunch. 

While former US President Donald Trump's arbitrary sanctions on major Chinese tech giants like Huawei and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC) have dealt heavy blows to the global chip industry chain, the Biden administration's political interference in companies' operation have also stirred strong backlashes.

Last November, the Biden's administration obstructed SK Hynix's plan to import the advanced equipment to its chip factory in East China's Jiangsu Province. The US' move that put SK Hynix's chip factory's renovation plans in jeopardy has caused strong backlash from South Korean media outlets. If the US continues to intervene in this way, South Korean companies will suffer more losses. The purpose of an economic alliance is to promote mutual economic interests, but the US coerces its allies to suffer economic losses for its own political interests, some South Korean media outlets questioned.

The US government's political coercion and interference in attempting to split the global semiconductor sector will not stop China's semiconductor sector from development, but only serve to further escalate the current chip shortage and stresses throughout the global industrial chain. What the US does may block US companies and other international companies from the Chinese market, and these companies are unwilling to bear the losses and pay for this kind of political scheming orchestrated by the US.

Those politicians in Washington who are calling for tougher semiconductor export controls, secondary sanctions, and research blockades against China have clearly underestimated the costs of US-China semiconductor decoupling. According to estimates from the US Department of Commerce, if American business with China on semiconductors is cut off completely, it will probably cost anywhere between $80 to $100 billion in sales and 125,000 jobs in the US.

China's chip market occupies a large share of global industry value and has huge potential. It is increasingly regarded as an important market by related companies in the global chip industry chain and has strong manufacturing advantages. The Chinese market will continue to expand opening up, and concrete measures are being taken to improve the market's business environment. Foreign companies like ASML are welcome to achieve mutual beneficial development in China.

The author is an editor with the Global Times.