‘I cannot see how this will be China’s century’: Dutch PM Rutte praises ‘the great role’ of the U.S. after the country backs Biden’s chip controls

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Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, effusively praised the U.S. and downplayed China’s rise in an opinion piece published late on Monday, as the European country aligns itself more closely with Washington in areas like defense and semiconductors.

“I cannot see how this will be China’s century,” wrote Mark Rutte, prime minister of the Netherlands, in NRC, a Dutch newspaper. “The 21st century will be the century of democracy and thus the century of America,” he wrote.

Rutte praised the “great role of the United States” in pledging a large amount of resources to the defense of Ukraine against Russia’s invasion. The Dutch prime minister argued that the military operation launched by Russian president Vladimir Putin put the "international legal order" at risk. Rutte, who leads the center-right People's Party for Freedom and Democracy, said that Europe, including the Netherlands, needs to spend more money on defense.

The Netherlands has at times defended its trade links with China, which is the country’s second-largest source of imports. Micky Adriaansens, the country’s economy minister, told the Financial Times last December that trade with China gave “a boost to innovation and trade which is fundamental to Europe.”

A key part in the chip supply chain

The U.S. moved to restrict exports of advanced chips and chipmaking equipment to Chinese companies last October. Earlier this year, the Netherlands reportedly agreed to impose its own chip controls on China, after negotiations with the U.S.

The European country plays a large role in the chip supply chain due to one Dutch company: ASML Holdings, the only manufacturer of the equipment used to make the most advanced chips.

The U.S. has pressured ASML to stop selling its deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography tools to Chinese companies. The company is already barred from selling its most advanced product, extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography. New engineering practices might let Chinese companies make more sophisticated semiconductors using ASML’s less advanced DUV technology.

ASML, which garners 15% of its sales from China, is putting a brave face on these looming constraints for now. The company told Reuters in January that any legislation to bar exports to China would “take time” to implement.

But CEO Peter Wennink has at times grumbled about the attention paid to ASML, implying that his company attracts undue attention from Washington while U.S. manufacturers can continue to sell less advanced equipment to Chinese companies. “ASML has already sacrificed,” Wennink told a Dutch newspaper in December.

Yet ASML’s presence in China presents risks for the company. Last week, ASML accused an ex-employee in China of stealing confidential information, the second accusation of theft made by the Dutch company in under a year.  ASML warned the theft might have regulatory consequences for the company, due to violating export controls.

Liesje Schreinemacher, the Netherlands’ trade minister, said it was “very worrying that such a large and reputable company is affected by economic espionage,” referring to ASML’s accusations.

This story was originally featured on Fortune.com

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