Thu. Feb 29th, 2024

US has sought to shore up export controls to limit Beijing’s access to advanced computer chips.

United States President Joe Biden and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte have begun a meeting in the White House, with US export restrictions aimed at China expected to top the agenda.

The wide-ranging White House talk on Tuesday was planned as the US has sought to shore up allies’ support for restrictions that aim to limit China’s ability to access advanced computing chips, develop and maintain supercomputers, and make advanced semiconductors.

As the two men sat in the Oval Office, Biden hailed the strong ties between the two countries, noting the pair would join Costa Rica, South Korea and Zambia in co-hosting the second Summit for Democracy in late March.

He added that Washington and Amsterdam were working together to “meet the challenges of China” and strengthen supply chains and that the two countries have been “in lock step in our vision for the future”.

For his part, Rutte focused mostly of the Russian invasion of Ukraine during the brief statements.

He decried the Russian missile strike in Dnipro on Saturday that killed at least 40 people, while touting the about 2.5 billion euros ($2.7bn) Amsterdam has pledged in support of Ukraine this year. The money will be spent on military equipment, humanitarian and diplomatic efforts.

“And then on accountability, we can never accept that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and Russia get away with it,” he said.

Export restrictions

Nevertheless, US export controls aimed at China were expected to loom large on Tuesday.

The Biden administration has argued that the new restrictions, announced by the US Department of Commerce in October, are necessary because China can use semiconductors to create advanced military systems, including weapons of mass destruction, as well as improve the speed and accuracy of its military decision-making, planning and logistics.

The Netherlands’ largest company is ASML Holding, a key supplier to semiconductor equipment makers. China has been a major client of the company.

During an interview on Monday, Dutch Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher said Amsterdam would not summarily accept the new US restrictions.

“We’ve been talking with the Americans for a long time, but they came up with new rules in October, so that changes the playing field,” Schreinemacher said on the Dutch Buitenhof television show. “So you can’t say that they’ve been pressuring us for two years and now we have to sign on the dotted line. And we won’t.”

The trade minister added that Washington had “justified worries” about an overreliance on Asia, where 80 percent of advanced chips are made, as well as the threat that the technology could support military applications.

The Dutch government has denied ASML permission since 2019 to send China its most advanced lithography machines, which design and produce semiconductors, after a pressure campaign by the administration of former US President Donald Trump.

However, the company did sell 2 billion euros ($2.1bn) of older machines to China in 2021.

ASML CEO Peter Wennink had previously said he expected the US export controls to have only a “limited impact” on the shipment of the machines.

Tuesday’s visit comes after Biden last week hosted Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan, another key player in semiconductor technology.

The US and Japan said in a joint statement following the meeting that they agreed to “sharpen our shared edge on economic security, including protection and promotion of critical and emerging technologies”.

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By Joy

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