In order to hobble China’s ability to produce computer chips, U.S. officials are in talks with their counterparts in Holland to block a semiconductor manufacturing tool maker based there from exporting its machines to China, Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday.
The Dutch ASML makes lithography machines that perform one of the critical steps in modern chip production. Several years ago the U.S. successfully lobbied the Dutch government to block the sale of extreme ultraviolet lithography, or EUV, tools needed to print the world’s most advanced chips. But now officials are going a step further: They're attempting to block the export of the prior generation of tools — deep ultraviolet lithography, or DUV, machines — Bloomberg reported.
The older generation of DUV machines are widely used in global chip production and are used to make many of the chips in phones, PCs and autos. ASML controls most of the market for DUV tools.
An ASML spokesperson said that discussions in Washington about blocking DUV exports to China aren’t new, and that no decision has been made. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves recently visited Holland and met with ASML’s CEO, Peter Wennink.
Choking off the China market for DUV tools would damage ASML’s business, which sold €2.7 billion ($2.8 billion) worth of products and services in 2021 to companies either based in China or with operations there, according to its most recent annual report. Other tool makers such as Applied Materials and Lam Research are already banned from selling some of their machines to China’s SMIC, but would likely be hurt by an expanded tool ban, too.