Questions over ASML services 'grave intervention' in market norms
Published: Mar 24, 2024 10:07 PM
ASML's booth at China International Import Expo on November 4, 2021 Photo: VCG

ASML's booth at China International Import Expo on November 4, 2021 Photo: VCG

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will pay a visit to China next week and topics involved during the visit could include whether chipmaking equipment producer ASML, the EU's most valuable firm, can continue to service its computer chip equipment sold to Chinese customers, Reuters reported over the weekend.

A Chinese industry expert said that it would be quite appalling if such a question that should never be disputed was brought to the table by Dutch government officials in talks with their Chinese counterparts.

"A corporation is responsible to service its products for its customers, this is a basic principle of the market economy, and it would be quite abnormal that such a question should be raised during the reported visit by top Dutch government officials," Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Beijing-based Information Consumption Alliance, told the Global Times on Sunday.

If the Dutch government gives in to pressure from the US government and raises the issue of servicing existing models sold to Chinese customers, it would be a grave intervention in the market economy by the government, Xiang said.

Most of the existing lithography systems in the hands of Chinese fabs are for the mature process.

The US is using long-arm jurisdiction to force its allies to be foot soldiers of its containment and decoupling strategies against China.

In January, ASML warned that US export controls would affect its sales in China by 10-15 percent in 2024 while announcing better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter and full year of 2023.

The Dutch company has been caught in the broader technology battle between the US and China. Exports of NXT:2050i and NXT:2100i lithography systems in 2023 to China were affected.

In response to the Dutch government's blocking of ASML exports to China, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on January 2 said that China strongly opposes the hegemonic and bullying practices of the US, which seriously violate international trade rules, undermine the global semiconductor industry structure and affect the security and stability of international industry and supply chains.

Wang urged the Dutch side to respect the spirit of contract and take concrete steps to protect the shared interests of China and the Netherlands and the companies of the two countries, adding that China will resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests.

"The semiconductor sector is a highly globalized industry. In a deeply integrated world economy, the US actions will surely boomerang," Wang said.

For 2023, ASML reported 27.6 billion euros ($30 billion) in revenue, up 30 percent year-on-year. Its gross profit margin was 51.3 percent, with a net profit of 7.8 billion euros.

Global Times