US seeks to expand ban on ASML’s China sales
The US government is applying pressure on the Netherlands to stop ASML Holding NV from selling deep-ultraviolet lithography equipment to China, according to a Bloomberg report.
ASML stopped supplying extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography equipment in 2019 when it was denied a “dual-use” license to sell the leading-edge stepper (see US lobbied hard to deny China EUV lithography). Dual use refers to the potential use of technology for military as well as for commercial, industrial and consumer applications
The US is apparently eager to broaden the definition of “dual-use” and prevent the sale of the slightly older immersion lithography equipment, more effectively limiting the growth of China’s independent semiconductor capability.
Reuters reported an ASML spokesperson saying the company is not aware of any policy change. “The discussion is not new. No decisions have been made, and we do not want to speculate or comment on rumours,” Reuters reported the spokesperson saying.
While ASML has a monopoly in EUV lithography there are other suppliers of lithography equipment behind the leading edge such as Canon and Nikon. China itself has some nascent semiconductor equipment companies but a US-imposed ban on Dutch and Japanese firms would be a major blow in the near and medium term.
China posted an immediate riposte through Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian who said the US would be guilty of “technology terrorism” if it attempted to restrict China’s access, according to a CGTN report.
“This is yet another example of the US practice of ‘coercive diplomacy’ by abusing state power and wielding technological hegemony. It is also classic technological terrorism,” CGTN reported Zhao saying at a regular press conference in Beijing.
Zhao called on the parties concerned to make their own decisions on based on market principles of equity and fairness and on their own long-term interests.
The expansion of embargo against China would be another element in a long-running trade war that dates back about 2018. It has included measures targeting Huawei, which had become the world’s largest telecommunications equipment vendor and the denial of access to foundry services out of Taiwan. The ban of EUV lithography equipment sales has effectively prevented China’s leading foundry Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC) from attempting to catch up with leading foundries TSMC and Samsung.
Related links and articles:
China warns Netherlands over blocked ASML export
US lobbied hard to deny China EUV lithography
ASML delays Chinese delivery of EUV lithography tool