US officials want to persuade the Dutch with a stick and a pie in the sky: Global Times editorial
Published: Nov 23, 2022 11:50 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

When it comes to the sales of chip equipment to China, the Netherlands once again showed "resistance" against pressure from Washington. Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher said on Tuesday that the Netherlands will "make its own decision" regarding ASML's chip gear sales to China. On the same day, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell insisted during a bruising debate at the European Parliament that the EU will not follow US' toughest policies on China, and "distanced the bloc from US' broad push to ban the export of high-end chips." The two events reflect a wealth of information. It's clear that more and more countries are standing up to say "no" to US bullying. 

The Netherlands is thought to play a key role in US' unilateral semiconductor blockade against China, because it has ASML, which dominates the market for one-of-a-kind, cutting-edge chip-making equipment. But when the US made its plan, it neither listened to the opinions of ASML and the Netherlands, nor showed respect to them. More precisely, the US didn't hesitate to harm their interests. Making decisions for others, and then imposing them on others - this is what Washington did. US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo previously said in an interview that "I think you will see Japan and the Netherlands follow our lead." Now everyone knows that at least the Netherlands clearly opposes imitating the US. It's the US that has been forcing the Netherlands to cooperate with it. Isn't this "economic coercion?"

According to ASML's fiscal year 2021 annual report, the Chinese mainland is the company's third largest market, accounting for approximately 14.7 percent of its total revenue. For the Dutch company, the huge potential of the Chinese mainland market is irreplaceable. Washington has already seriously interfered with and compressed ASML's normal trade with Beijing. And now it even wants to completely cut off one of the Dutch company's main arteries. The US does not allow ASML to sell products to China, but it cannot digest ASML's production capacity, and there are also competing companies in the US. In its selfish calculations, it wants to sacrifice European interests in exchange for its strategic interests. It's just so calculative.

But every country has its own calculation as well. A normal country will not be submissive and submit to humiliation, and few sovereign states are willing to act as US' lapdogs. The US actually knows very well that pressure alone will not work, so these years it has also painted a rosy picture everywhere. But the picture is a pie in the sky and has a short "pull date." The countries that Washington has made promises to will become sober when their dignity and interests are constantly damaged. The US under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security, Alan Estevez, is about to visit the Netherlands to discuss export control issues. The so-called "discussion" is, in fact, subjugation, and Estevez must be carrying a stick and an empty promise with him. Without these two things, Washington officials probably don't even know how to talk or act. But there are really not many people that will buy this.

According to media reports, the EU is considering taking retaliatory measures against the US Inflation Reduction Act. This bill, with strong "America First" flavor, has severely undermined Europe's interests with high subsidies, forcing French President Emmanuel Macron to speak out loudly to "wake up Europe," persuading European companies not to shift production to the US. 

Not only Europe, recent reaction of Southeast Asian countries opposing "taking sides" also clearly showed that the decoupling and supply chain disruption as well as bloc confrontation advocated by the US is unpopular. The more Washington attempts to expand its frontline, the easier it will be broken down. As long as victims of the US economic coercion unite as much as possible to resist US' bullying, the US will face the situation that it has to adjust its behavior. 

Facts have repeatedly proved that those who block others will only lead themselves to a dead end. The chip industry is an example. Just because of Washington wantonly engaging in protectionism in the chip sector, many countries are vigorously developing their own chip industry, while American chip companies have been hit hard by Washington's wrong policies. When Washington wakes up from its dream of containing China, it will find "America First" will only isolate itself more. Just as a British media commented, the days of American unipolarity are over, and its attempts to drag the world into a war with China will only accelerate its decline.