Chipmaker CEO says Washington’s anti-China tech blockade is a bad idea



Laurens Cerulus

VELDHOVEN, Netherlands — Europe shouldn’t block exports of high-end tech to China as doing so would only speed up Beijing’s efforts to achieve “tech sovereignty,” according to the CEO of the bloc’s highest-valued technology company.

Peter Wennink, head of Dutch chip printing giant ASML, said the EU should get tough with China over intellectual property and enforce a level playing field in trade — but not close off exports of high-end tech, a strategy favored in Washington.

“If you shut out the Chinese with export control measures, you’ll force them to strive toward tech sovereignty, in their case real tech sovereignty … In 15 years’ time they’ll be able to do it all by themselves — and their market [for European suppliers] will be gone,” Wennink told POLITICO on the top floor of ASML’s towering building in Veldhoven, a town in the southeast of the country.

The comments come as Europe is trying to position itself in a raging U.S.-China technology war where the spotlight is on microchips.

The EU, which wants to reduce its dependence on foreign tech, has set itself the goal of controlling 20 percent of the world’s semiconductor market by 2030, up from 10 percent today, via big investment programs. That strategy would seek to build on Europe’s advantages — like ASML, the only company in the world that makes the printing machines for cutting-edge microchips that power smartphones, cloud computing and other advanced technologies.

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