China’s foreign minister pressed his Dutch counterpart Tuesday for access to advanced chipmaking technology that has been blocked on security grounds and warned against allowing what he said were unfounded fears of Beijing to spoil relations.
Chinese frustration with curbs imposed by the Netherlands, Washington and Japan on chip technology has added to political strains at a time when Beijing is threatening to attack Taiwan and is increasingly assertive toward other Asian neighbors.
There was no indication the Netherlands changed its restriction on the supply of lithography machines available only from a single Dutch company that use ultraviolet light to etch tiny circuits on next-generation processor chips. Lack of that tool is holding back Chinese efforts to develop chips for smartphones, artificial intelligence and other advanced applications.
“As for the issue of lithography machines, China has serious concerns about this,” Qin Gang said at a joint news conference. “We should work together to jointly protect the normal trade order between us, the international trade rules and to jointly keep the global industrial and supply chains stable.”
The Chinese ambassador to the Netherlands earlier threatened possible unspecified retaliation, but the ministers gave no indication they discussed that in their 2 1/2-hour meeting.
“We have shared our national security concerns,” said the Dutch minister, Wopke Hoekstra. “I’ve, of course, clearly listened to his, and this is typically an issue where we will continue our dialogue.”
Beijing appears to be trying to improve relations with European governments and possibly split some away from alliances with Washington.
Political analysts have suggested that is part of the motivation behind Beijing’s decision to send an envoy to discuss a possible settlement of the Ukraine war. Analysts see little hope of peace but say the initiative gives Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s government a chance to deflect Western criticism of its friendly relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Qin appealed for patience while the envoy, Li Hui, visits European governments to discuss a possible “political settlement.”
Hoekstra, who also is the Dutch deputy prime minister, said he and Qin “talked extensively about the war” but gave no details.
“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine must stop and Europe and Netherlands will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes and whatever necessary,” Hoekstra said.
Qin tried to downplay security fears about Beijing.
“What China exports is opportunity, not crisis,” he said.
The Chinese minister complained about the “abnormal phenomenon” of what he said was fears about China being exaggerated by unspecified “intelligence departments.”
“Then their accusations are being exaggerated by the media,” Qin said. “The result is that it erodes the popular support for the friendship between our two countries.”