China offers market for ASML, other Western firms as US offers ideological slogans
Published: Mar 30, 2023 10:24 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

Over the past two weeks, top executives from more than ten well-known Western companies, including Apple, Qualcomm and Dutch chip equipment maker ASML, visited China and met with high-ranking Chinese officials. These foreign companies are attracted to China's huge market potential that could bring tangible benefits for shareholders. On the other side of the Pacific Ocean, US President Joe Biden continued to use democracy as a tool, or weapon, to incite division and confrontation. The Biden administration has been pushing Western companies to decouple from China, but what Washington can offer as a reward is just empty talk and ideological prejudice. The world should realize how absurd it is.

Biden on Wednesday opened his second "Summit for Democracy" with pledges of nearly $700 million in funds and a joint alliance against surveillance technology as US concern mounts over China and Russia, the VOA reported. The US has long used democracy as a tool to buttress its global hegemony, peddle its false narrative of ideological competition and opposition, and to meddle in other countries' internal affairs under the pretext of promoting democracy. At present, amid global economic uncertainty caused by sluggish demand, countries in the world, especially US allies, hope to steal a free ride on the back of US economic development, but, regrettably, the world's largest economy has lost momentum. The US idea of using an ideological war to incite division is na?ve, because people in the world have begun to realize that the US is no longer able to offer tangible economic benefits to support its geopolitical strategies.

On Monday, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that semiconductor companies seeking US grants under the Chips Act will be asked to provide detailed projections for revenue and profit from their new chip-making plants to help evaluate their applications. The Chips Act provides $53 billion to help attract investment from chip companies. However, with more details being disclosed, the act seems like not only a joke but also a political ruse, as it isn't hard to imagine that almost no one wants to submit sensitive core business secrets only for applying for limited incentives. It is even more ironic that this scene took place before the so-called democracy summit, adding to evidence of the Biden administration's economic incompetence in supporting its geopolitical and ideological games.

The Biden administration is roping in people in the commercial circles to exert more pressure on China with its "economic decoupling from China" rhetoric, but decoupling seems unrealistic. In the past two weeks, intensive visits by top executives from well-known Western companies cast light on the importance that they attach to the Chinese market.  

On Tuesday, Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao met with ASML's CEO Peter Wennink. Wang emphasized that China will unswervingly promote high-level opening-up and is willing to create a good business environment and provide efficient services for multinational companies, which includes ASML, to develop in the country. 

China has a huge domestic market, which is of great significance for Western companies such as ASML. In 2022, ASML's sale of DUV machines to China totaled around 2.16 billion euro ($2.35 billion), or 14 percent of the company's total revenue, according to Reuters. It comes as no surprise that ASML does not want to give up sales in the Chinese market for Washington's geopolitical and ideological games that offer no tangible economic benefits to global semiconductor companies.

Amid rising geopolitical tension, the US is trying to build a blockade against China while China is strengthening its ties with the rest of the world. In this process, China has more room and leverage - consolidated economic recovery in the Asian country brings tangible economic benefits but Washington offers only political and ideological slogans. 

Ensuring a fair business environment and promoting high-level opening-up are our strongest forms of economic capital in the long-term game with the US. We must constantly expand China's market and push back against US intentions to instigate ideological opposition and advocate economic decoupling between China and the Western economy.

Western companies including ASML should strengthen their confidence in trade and investment cooperation with China. Although the US will probably continue setting obstacles for their operation in China, it should be pointed out that China will unswervingly further improve its business environment and further open its domestic market to overseas companies. The simple truth is that they should never give up the Chinese market.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.