Rob de Wijk discusses the Dutch situation in the geopolitical fight between the USA and China about ASML's chip machines in Dutch newspaper 'NRC'
The article that was published on 21 January 2020 claims that chip maker ASML wants to be able to export to China but has been unable to obtain the necessary permits. Last summer, the application by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (BZ) was suddenly frozen after pressure from the USA, according to press agency Reuters. Rob de Wijk, Professor International Relations and Security, discusses in the article how the Netherlands should address this situation.
Concerns are growing now that chip maker ASML appears to have landed the Netherlands in the middle of the geopolitical fight between the USA and China. Questions on how the Netherlands can best remain friends with these two super powers play a role. Rob de Wijk: 'Congratulations Netherlands, we'll never be able to dig ourselves out of this.' The decision on being allowed to export lies with a special department within BZ in charge of 'sensitive' export licenses. A group of ten civil servants that are under pressure from all sides: intelligence services, other ministries, and ASML itself. On top of that, the Chinese and American embassies have also gotten involved.
The USA want to keep China at a disadvantage to prevent the Chinese from building their own independent chip industry. Which is why the USA are hoping that this blockade, not being able to export the chip machines, results in that desired disadvantage for China. What should the Netherlands do? According to De Wijk, it is important for the Netherlands to refrain from doing 'anything' at the moment. The choice is to either get into a fight with the USA or to get into a fight with China. Postpone that choice. Hopefully, a different political wind will start blowing from Washington some time soon.