ASML chip machines blocked from export to China


Cutting-edge chip manufacturing machines from Dutch semiconductor giant ASML have been blocked from export to China, according to the firm, amid a report of US pressure in the strategic sector.

ASML said in a statement late Monday the Dutch government had recently revoked a licence for shipping an unspecified number of machines “impacting a small number of customers in China.”

Semiconductors, which power everything from mobile phones to cars, have become a geopolitical battleground, with the West seeking to restrict China’s access over fears they could be used for advanced weaponry.

In October, the United States announced tighter export curbs on state-of-the-art artificial intelligence chips, sparking fury in Beijing.

Citing unnamed sources, financial news agency Bloomberg News reported that US officials contacted the Dutch government and ASML late last year in a bid to halt the shipments.

In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin lashed out Tuesday at what he called Washington’s “bullying behaviour.”

Such action “seriously violates international trade rules, seriously damages the global semiconductor industry layout, and seriously impacts the security and stability of international industrial and supply chains,” said Wang.

ASML said the export curbs would not have a “material impact” on its financial outlook. However, shares in the firm dropped 1.6 percent in early trading, the only loser on the Amsterdam stock market.

Amid trade tensions with China, there are also concerns that Beijing may introduce its own export controls on gallium and germanium — two rare earth metals critical for the manufacture of semiconductors.

China said last month it would halt the export of a range of rare earth metal processing technologies.

Wang warned the US would “inevitably suffer the consequences of its own actions.”

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