The technological rivalry between the United States and China is not weakening. According to information from Bloomberg, the US Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Don Graves, took advantage of a diplomatic visit to the Netherlands at the end of May, beginning of June, to request that the access of the Middle Kingdom to ASML products be restricted. This Dutch company is the first supplier of an essential tool for the manufacture of semiconductors.
The Netherlands already refuses to sell certain tools
During his European tour, devoted precisely to the current disruptions in the supply chain, Don Graves would have taken the opportunity to ask the Dutch government to extend a pre-existing moratorium on the sale of advanced technology to China.
The latter concerns ASML, where Don Graves went to meet its general manager Peter Wennink. ASML is the world’s leading supplier of lithography systems, crucial in the chip manufacturing process. They also have a monopoly on the most advanced systems of their kind.
These are not those of which the United States wants to deprive China: the Netherlands has already refused the Middle Kingdom a license for the most sophisticated systems, known as “extreme ultraviolet lithography” (EUV), sold 160 million euros each.
These are the deep ultraviolet (DEV) lithography systems for which Washington hopes to obtain its moratorium. Older, it remains essential for manufacturing the least sophisticated semiconductors fitted to cars, telephones, computers, etc.
The United States wants to hinder China’s race for self-sufficiency in semiconductors
Concerned by the shortage, these chips are at the heart of the Chinese production development strategy, in particular of its flagships SMIC and Hua Hong. Semiconductors are the weak point of China’s technological rise known to all. Beijing has embarked on a proactive policy in the hope of achieve self-sufficiency in this sector to fill this gap.
The United States does not hesitate to press where it hurts, to stop the effort of its rival. They would also put pressure on Japan, where Nikon is a competitor of ASML in the DEV sector. Contacted by Bloombergthe representative of the Japanese company would have declined to comment, that of ASML simply stated ” The discussion is not new. No decision has been made and we don’t want to speculate or comment on any rumors. “.
ASML is not hot, neither is the Dutch government
On the occasion of a previous statement, the general manager of ASML clearly showed his disapproval, judging such a decision unnecessary, the technology being already mature. If she were to be taken, 5% to 10% of ASML’s sales would be at risk.
Obviously this scenario remains premature. Still according to information from Bloomberg the Netherlands would not, for the moment, be inclined to take such a decision, likely to confuse them with their third trading partner.