U.S. pushes the Netherlands to block ASML selling lithography machines to China

China's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the United States is engaging in “technological terrorism” by pushing the Netherlands to ban a company from selling chipmaking technology to China. “It is another example of the U.S. practice of coercive diplomacy by abusing state power and wielding technological hegemony,” Zhao said, referring to a Bloomberg report that said U.S. officials are lobbying their Dutch counterparts to bar ASML Holding from selling to China mainstream technology essential for making microchips. The Dutch government has yet to agree to any additional restrictions on ASML’s exports to Chinese chipmakers, which could hurt the country’s trade ties with China.

Zhao accused the U.S. of repeatedly seeking to politicize and instrumentalize economic and trade issues and imposing “technology blockades” and “technology decoupling” on other countries. “This will only remind all countries of the risk of being solely dependent on the U.S. in terms of technologies. And it will also prompt them to achieve independence and self-reliance in science and technology at a faster pace,” Zhao said. “Those who seek to block others’ way will end up being blocked on their own way,” he added.

Zhao also urged relevant parties to uphold an objective and just position and make independent decisions based on their fundamental and long-term interests. The U.S. has long been seeking to hamstring competitive Chinese high-tech companies under all kinds of trumped-up charges in violation of the principles of fair competition, the market economy, and international trading rules. According to a document released by the Foreign Ministry in June, the U.S. has placed over 1,000 Chinese companies on various sanctions lists, subjected biotechnology and artificial intelligence technologies to enhance export controls and stringent investment reviews, and sought to ban Chinese social media platforms including TikTok and WeChat, the China Daily reports.

Separately, China is seeing a chance to improve its self sufficiency in microprocessors, the heart of every smart device, through the open-standard RISC-V chip design architecture. The China RISC-V Industry Alliance – an association promoting the standard locally – had 140 members as of December 2021. Hopes were high that RISC-V would enable China to crack the market for CPU designs, breaking the monopoly held by U.S. and British firms, and help the country achieve its strategic goal of self-sufficiency in chips. Intel’s X86 is the dominant CPU standard for laptops and computers, while the instruction set architecture (ISA) from Arm, owned by Japan’s Softbank, is widely used in smartphones. For Chinese firms like Nuclei, RISC-V provides an opportunity to catch up. Applications for RISC-V will come from smart home appliances, wearable gear, surveillance cameras, auto electronics, and industrial robots – which all have huge demand in China, the South China Morning Post reports.