Netherlands unlikely to blindly follow US export control measures
Published: Dec 08, 2022 07:32 PM Updated: Dec 08, 2022 07:23 PM


The US is ramping up pressure on its allies and has reportedly threatened the Netherlands to follow Washington's new export controls imposed on China.

However, experts said on Thursday that the Netherlands is unlikely to blindly bend to the US by weighing its own interests, as the complementary nature of the Chinese and Dutch economies as well as the huge Chinese market will aid the Netherlands' economic recovery.

The Netherlands is planning new limits on exports of chip-making equipment to China, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. It said that the move may stop world-leading chip equipment maker ASML's immersion lithography machines, its second-most advanced gear, from being exported to China, where they could be used for making 14-nanometer chips or more advanced products.

Under pressure from the US, the Netherlands has since 2018 not allowed ASML to sell its most advanced chip-making equipment to China.

The reported move showed that the US has ratcheted up pressure on its allies in a bid to contain China's technological advance, after the US Department of Commerce released sweeping rules prohibiting US companies from exporting to China technologies, software and equipment for making advanced chips and supercomputers in October.

American officials have threatened that Washington could ban sales of foreign equipment that contains "even the smallest amount of US technologies" to China, Bloomberg reported.

"This is a typical case of the US' tech hegemony. However, the Netherlands is unlikely to bend to US pressure, out of consideration for safeguarding its own interests," Zhao Junjie, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of European Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.

According to a report by Fitch Ratings, sales in China made up about 13-31 percent of the revenues of ASML, US' Lam Research and US chip toolmaker KLA Corp.

"As a further ban on its chip-making equipment exports to China would cripple the Netherlands' semiconductor industry and the interest of ASML, the country has tried its best to withstand pressure from the US," Fu Liang, an independent tech analyst, told the Global Times on Thursday, noting that China may be the only promising market for ASML, given the overcapacity of chip supply across the world.

"Obviously we are weighing our own interests. Our national security interest is of the utmost importance," Dutch trade minister Liesje Schreinemacher told Reuters in an interview in November, sending a signal that the country will not blindly follow the US's steps.

China and the Netherlands have long maintained a sound economic and trade relationship due to the complementary nature of the two economies, and since the Netherlands is faced with domestic economic difficulties, it will not be willing to give up the vast Chinese market, Zhao said.

As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of ambassadorial-level diplomatic relations between China and the Netherlands, the two countries' leaders spoke volumes about their mutual desire to push forward bilateral ties during their recent meeting in Bali, Indonesia.

Emphasizing that the world is a community where all countries need to cooperate with, rather than "decouple" from one another, China stressed that any attempt to politicize economic and trade issues must be rejected, and the stability of global industrial and supply chains should be maintained.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the country will work with China, with a focus on the bigger picture, to unleash potential, and expand dialogue and cooperation in innovation, climate change and other areas.

Bilateral trade between China and the Netherlands reached $119.53 billion in the first 11 months of 2022, jumping 15.1 percent year-on-year, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs on Wednesday.