Chinese ambassador to NL warns on export restrictions: FD

King Willem-Alexander and ambassador Tan Jian on his arrival in 2021. Photo: Albert Nieboer ANP
King Willem-Alexander and ambassador Tan Jian on his arrival in 2021. Photo: Albert Nieboer ANP

Further Dutch restrictions on chip technology exports will damage trade relations between China and the Netherlands and repercussions will follow,  the Chinese ambassador to the Netherlands has warned.

Foreign trade minister Liesje Schreinemacher told MPs in a briefing two weeks ago that the decision to restrict ASML exports was taken on ‘international and national security grounds’ to ensure sensitive technologies do not end up in the wrong hands.

In an interview with the Financieele Dagblad, Chinese ambassador to the Netherlands Tan Jian called the reason cited by Schreinemacher a ‘fallacy’.

Linking the restrictions directly to pressure from the US, Tan said the restrictions were in contravention of international trade rules. ‘If the Netherlands goes through with this it will have a negative effect on our economic cooperation and relations,’ he warned, adding that ‘there may be no love lost between us but we do need each other.’

The argument that there could be a security threat to the West is used as an excuse by the US to stop the development of Chinese high tech industries, Tan said. ‘The equipment we are talking about is not very advanced and is used to make memory chips. It’s nothing to do with the military,’ he told the paper.

Tan also dismissed the argument that the Netherlands might in time become dependent on China for chips.

‘Mutual dependence is the life blood of trade. China is in many ways dependent on the West and needs the Netherlands more than the other way around,’ Tan told the paper. However, by cutting themselves off from a huge market, the Dutch are damaging their ability to be competitive in a world market, he said.

Tan did not answer in any detail about alleged cases of theft of ASML technology in China, referring instead to ‘procedures’ to cope with theft ‘and special courts which can be appealed to’.

And he stressed that he hoped the Netherlands would not press ahead with the export ban. ‘China will not put up with everything,’ he said. ‘If damage is done we shall take action to protect ourselves. I will not speculate about that we will do but we will not not leave it at harsh words alone.’

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