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Dutch PM Rutte denies US pressure over chip export policy

The Netherlands is not feeling pressured by Washington to adopt new U.S. rules further restricting semiconductor technology exports to China, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday.

The Hague has denied licenses for its largest company, ASML Holding NV, to export its most advanced machines to China since 2019, following lobbying by the Trump administration, raising concerns it is under pressure again to adopt further restrictions.

U.S. officials have said they expect the Netherlands to implement similar rules to those imposed on U.S. companies by Washington in October 2022, which are aimed at hobbling China’s ability to make its own chips.

Rutte is travelling to Washington next week to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss security and trade issues, including chip-making tool exports.

“This is a terrain where we’re a world player and we can conduct discussions about it without immediately talking in terms … of being ‘put under pressure’. I don’t experience it like that at all,” Rutte said at his weekly press conference.

“When you’re talking about vital technologies it can be important to talk to others about that, so that’s what we are doing, but from a position of sovereignty, self-confidence.”

ASML, which dominates the market for lithography systems used to create the circuitry of chips, sold around 2 billion euros ($2.17 billion) of its older equipment, which is not currently restricted, to China, in 2021.

It has said new U.S. rules could affect a third of that.

“We are talking about how you prevent – without naming any specific third country – modern chips being used for weapons systems. Or that you make yourself dependent” on other countries for technology, Rutte said at his weekly press briefing.

“That kind of conversation is happening intensively in the European Union and also in the United States,” he said, adding that Ukraine will likely be the top issue in talks with Biden. Reuters

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