BEIJING (AFP) – China’s foreign minister pressed his Dutch counterpart on Tuesday to gain access to advanced chip-making technology that has been blocked on security grounds and warned against allowing what he said were unfounded fears of Beijing to sour relations.
China’s frustration with restrictions on chip technology by the Netherlands, Washington and Japan is raising political tensions at a time when Beijing threatens to attack Taiwan and grows increasingly steadfast toward its other Asian neighbors.
There was no indication that the Netherlands changed its supply restrictions on lithography machines available only from a single Dutch company that uses ultraviolet light to etch tiny circles onto chips for next-generation processors. The lack of this tool is hampering Chinese efforts to develop chips for smartphones, artificial intelligence and other advanced applications.
“On the issue of lithography machines, China has serious concerns about it,” Qin Gang said at a joint press conference. “We must work together to jointly safeguard the normal trading order between us, the rules of international trade and jointly maintain the stability of global industry and supply chains.”
The Chinese ambassador to the Netherlands had earlier threatened unspecified retaliation, but the ministers gave no indication that they had discussed it in their two-and-a-half-hour meeting.
We shared our national security concerns,” said the Dutch Minister, Wopke Hoekstra. “Of course, I clearly listened to his speech, and this is usually a matter where we will continue our dialogue.”
It appears that Beijing is trying to improve relations with European governments and perhaps separate some of them from alliances with Washington.
Political analysts have pointed out that this is part of the motivation behind Beijing’s decision to send an envoy to discuss a possible settlement to the Ukraine war. Analysts see little hope for peace, but say the initiative gives Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government an opportunity to deflect Western criticism of its friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Chen called for patience while envoy Li Hui visited European governments to discuss a possible “political settlement”.
Hoekstra, who is also the Dutch deputy prime minister, said he and Kane “talked extensively about the war” but gave no details.
Hoekstra said: “Russian aggression against Ukraine must stop, and Europe and the Netherlands will continue to stand by Ukraine as long as necessary and whatever is necessary.”
Chen tried to downplay security concerns about Beijing.
“What China exports is an opportunity, not a crisis,” he said.
The Chinese minister complained about the “abnormal phenomenon” of what he said were fears of China being exaggerated by unspecified “intelligence departments”.
“Then the media exaggerates their accusations. The result is that they undermine public support for the friendship between our two countries,” Chen said.
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