Japan and the Netherlands have agreed to a deal with the United States to restrict China’s access to materials used to make advanced computer chips, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press on Sunday.
The person declined to be identified because the deal hasn’t yet been formally announced. It’s unclear when all three sides will unveil the agreement. The White House declined to comment.
The Biden administration in October imposed export controls to limit China’s ability to access advanced chips, which it says can be used to make weapons, commit human rights abuses, and improve the speed and accuracy of its military logistics. Washington urged allies like Japan and the Netherlands to follow suit.
China has responded angrily, saying trade curbs will disrupt supply chains and the global economic recovery.
“We hope the relevant countries will do the right thing and work together to uphold the multilateral trade regime and safeguard the stability of the global industrial and supply chains,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said earlier this month. “This will also serve to protect their own long-term interests.”
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Friday that Dutch and Japanese officials were in Washington for talks led by President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, that covered the “safety and security of emerging technologies,” efforts to aid Ukraine, and other issues.
“We’re grateful that they were able to come to D.C. and to have these talks,” Kirby said.
Kirby declined to say whether there was a deal on tighter export controls on semiconductor technology. This month, Biden met separately with Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to push for tighter export controls.
In a press conference last week, Rutte was asked about the talks but said they involve “such sensitive material … high-quality technology that the Dutch government chooses to communicate about it very carefully and that means in a very limited way.”
Veldhoven, Netherlands-based ASML, a leading maker of semiconductor production equipment, said Sunday that it didn’t know any details about the agreement or how it would affect ASML’s business.
ASML is the world’s only producer of machines that use extreme ultraviolet lithography to make advanced semiconductor chips. The Dutch government has prohibited ASML from exporting that equipment to China since 2019, but the company had still been shipping lower-quality lithography systems to China.
ASML has research and manufacturing centers in Beijing and Shenzhen, China, as well as a regional headquarters in Hong Kong.
U.S. officials say China is spending heavily to develop its fledgling semiconductor producers but so far cannot make the high-end chips used in the most advanced smartphones and other devices.