Chinese leader Xi tells Dutch PM that restricting technology access won’t stop China’s advance

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Chinese leader Xi Jinping told visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday that attempts to restrict China’s access to technology will not stop the country’s advance. The Netherlands imposed export licensing requirements in 2023 on the sale of machinery that can make advanced processor chips. The move came after the United States blocked Chinese access to advanced chips and the equipment to make them, citing security concerns, and urged its allies to follow suit.

An online report from state broadcaster CCTV did not mention the chip machinery but quoted Xi as saying that the creation of scientific and technological barriers and the fragmentation of the industrial and supply chains will lead to division and confrontation. “The Chinese people also have the right to legitimate development, and no force can stop the pace of China’s scientific and technological development and progress,” Xi said, according to CCTV.

Rutte and Trade Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen were also expected to discuss the wars in Ukraine and Gaza during meetings with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Qiang, a Dutch government release said ahead of their trip. China has taken a neutral position on the Ukraine war, providing Russia with diplomatic cover and economic support through trade. That stance has angered and frustrated much of Europe, which sees Russia as the aggressor and Ukraine as the victim.

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“I’m going to try to convey how important it is for the Netherlands, for our security, that Russia does not win this, that Russia loses, and that we also ask a good friend like China to understand that,” Rutte said in a video message recorded on a street in a historic tourist district in Beijing. In the video, posted on X, he also said that he would bring up intellectual property rights, subsidies and human rights.

Dutch company ASML is the world’s only producer of machines that use extreme ultraviolet lithography to make advanced semiconductors. In 2023, China became ASML’s second-largest market, accounting for 29% of its revenue as Chinese companies bought up equipment before the licensing requirement took effect. Beijing has repeatedly accused the US of trying to hold back China’s economic development by restricting access to technology.

In response, Xi has launched a campaign to develop home-grown chips and other high-tech products. “China always opposes the US overstretching the concept of national security and making various excuses to coerce other countries into imposing a technological blockade against China,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in January. ASML, the Netherlands’ largest company, recently threatened to leave the country over anti-immigration policies that may impact the company’s ability to hire talent, leaving government officials scrambling to ensure that the firm does not leave.

Van Leeuwen said this week in an interview with The FD, a Dutch business newspaper, that protecting the interests of ASML is a top priority but acknowledged that national security comes before economic interests. NATO and its growing ties with Asia also may come up at Wednesday’s talks. Rutte is a leading candidate to be the next head of NATO, an organisation that China has criticised for provoking regional tensions and making forays into the Asia-Pacific region.