Title: ASML Faces Pressure as US Attempts to Halt Chipmaking Equipment Shipments to China
In a bid to bypass US export restrictions on China, NVIDIA has seemingly found a way around the regulations, offering the tech giant a potential advantage. However, ASML, the Dutch firm responsible for crucial chipmaking equipment, appears to be caught in the middle without much say in the matter.
Recently, reports emerged that the Biden administration had contacted ASML “weeks before” the January 1, 2024 export ban deadline. They requested the company to halt some pre-scheduled shipments of their deep ultraviolet lithography (DUV) machines to Chinese customers. This request followed the discovery that Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) had utilized ASML technology to manufacture Huawei’s latest flagship processor.
ASML, a key player in the chipmaking industry, not only produces DUV machines but also manufactures more advanced extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) machines. However, it has never been allowed to sell EUV machines to China. Until the end of 2023, the Dutch government had granted ASML licenses to ship DUV machines to China.
National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, leading the US government, allegedly contacted the Dutch government to discuss ASML’s final shipments to China. As a result, ASML was asked to halt a limited number of machine shipments. It is worth noting that China had previously sourced lithography machines from elsewhere, although they tended to be less advanced. The collaboration between the US, Japan, and the Netherlands aimed to limit China’s access to such equipment.
China, however, has been actively focused on strengthening its own silicon ecosystem. the country surprised the world with its homegrown 7nm mobile 5G chip, showcasing its commitment to technological self-reliance and reducing dependence on foreign suppliers.
While it is understandable that the US may be desperate to halt ASML’s final DUV shipments to China, doing so before the agreed-upon deadline raises questions about the implications of such actions.
As the situation unfolds, the effort to control China’s access to advanced chipmaking equipment continues to raise concerns about the future of technological competition and global supply chains.