Dutch Trade Minister: China Protest Over Export Rules Is 'Understandable'

Export Rules

The Netherlands’ Trade Minister said a Chinese protest over the Dutch decision to impose restrictions on computer chip technology exports was “understandable”, but on Thursday said she expected diplomatic relations would remain good.

Liesje Schreinemacher was speaking in Stockholm after the Netherlands said on Wednesday it would follow the U.S. in imposing stricter export rules. China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday said it opposed that decision.

“I saw the response. I think it’s understandable. The Chinese have a big interest in this,” Schreinemacher said.

The Hague’s new rules are expected to keep ASML Holding NV, Europe’s largest technology firm, from exporting more of its top machines to China, following a previous round of restrictions in place since 2019.

The Dutch move puts the Netherlands in alignment with U.S. goals of undermining China’s ability to make its own cutting edge chips and slowing its military advances.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said the Dutch rules would “limit normal economic and trade exchanges between Chinese and Dutch companies”.

Schreinemacher said China remains a top trading partner for both the Netherlands and Europe, with Europeans buying Chinese solar panels and China buying equipment including ASML machines, not all of which will be subject to restrictions.

“So I believe that this mutual dependence works to both our advantages,” she said.

Asked whether Dutch restrictions, which are expected to be in place by this summer, will actually be more lax than comparable U.S. restrictions imposed on its own companies last year, she avoided the comparison.

“The Biden administration did their thing on Oct. 7 and we are doing what we are doing based on our own assessments.”