Dutch Government Implements Export Controls on ASML Technology Amid Concerns Over Chinese Military Use

Balancing Security and Commerce: Dutch Government Curbs ASML Exports Amid Chinese Military Concerns

The Dutch government has taken steps to restrict the export of ASML’s advanced semiconductor manufacturing tools amid fears of their potential use by China to bolster military capabilities. ASML, a prominent Netherlands-based company, specializes in lithography systems crucial for producing cutting-edge computer chips.

Geoffrey van Leeuwen, Dutch Trade Minister, voiced apprehensions that China could exploit foreign expertise, including Dutch lithography technology, to advance its military technology endeavors. The concern revolves around the possibility of utilizing ASML’s technology to manufacture semiconductors vital for high-value weapons systems and potentially weapons of mass destruction.

In response, the Dutch government has imposed export controls, particularly targeting ASML’s mid-range Deep Ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machines, essential for chip fabrication. While the most advanced Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) lithography tools have not been sold to China, the DUV machines still hold significant semiconductor-producing capabilities.

Recent measures include revoking previously granted licenses for ASML to export DUV tools to undisclosed customers in China, aligning with a broader strategy endorsed by the US and its allies to curb China’s access to military-enhancing technologies.

The decision to impose export controls has sparked debates regarding the delicate balance between national security and economic interests, given China’s substantial market significance for ASML’s products. These actions underscore the geopolitical tensions surrounding the semiconductor industry and the critical importance of controlling the supply chain for advanced technologies like chips and artificial intelligence.