China asks Dutch minister to block access to chip-making technology for security reasons

BEIJING — China’s foreign minister on Tuesday asked his Dutch counterpart for access to advanced chip-making technology that has been blocked for security reasons, warning that unfounded fears in Beijing could damage ties.

Chinese frustration over restrictions on chip technology by the Netherlands, Washington and Japan has fueled political tensions at a time when Beijing is threatening to attack Taiwan and growing assertive toward other Asian neighbors.

There is no indication that the Netherlands has changed its restrictions on shipping lithography machines from a single Dutch company that use ultraviolet light to etch tiny circuits in next-generation processor chips. The lack of this tool is hampering Chinese efforts to develop chips for smartphones, artificial intelligence and other advanced applications.

“As for lithography machines, China has serious concerns about it,” Qin Gang said at a joint press conference. “We must work together to jointly protect the normal trade order between us, international trade rules, and jointly keep global industrial and supply chains stable.”

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China’s ambassador to the Netherlands had previously threatened possible retaliation, but the ministers gave no indication that this was discussed during their 2 1/2-hour meeting.

“We shared our national security concerns,” Dutch Minister Wopke Hoekstra said. “Of course, I clearly listened to his, and that’s typically an issue where we continue the dialogue.”

There are signs that Beijing is trying to improve relations with European governments, possibly breaking some from their alliance with Washington.

According to political analysts, this is the reason why Beijing is sending an envoy to discuss a possible settlement of the war in Ukraine. Analysts see little hope for peace, but say the initiative gives the government of Chinese leader Xi Jinping an opportunity to fend off Western criticism of his friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Qin asked for patience while the envoy, Li Hui, visits European governments to discuss a possible “political settlement.”

Hoekstra, who is also the Dutch deputy prime minister, said he and Qin “spoke extensively about the war” but did not elaborate.

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“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine must be stopped, and Europe and the Netherlands will continue to stand by Ukraine as long as it takes,” Hoekstra said.

Qin tried to downplay security fears about Beijing.

“What China exports is opportunity, not crisis,” he said.

The Chinese minister complained about the “abnormal phenomenon” which he said was a fear of China being exaggerated by unspecified “intelligence departments”.

“Then their accusations will be exaggerated by the media,” Qin said. “The result is that it undermines popular support for friendship between the two countries.”