Although US President Joe Biden has discarded almost all the policies of his predecessor, one that his administration has picked up the baton on is the attempt to squeeze the space for China's development of high-technology.
The Biden administration has ramped up those efforts. In October, it introduced measures aimed at nobbling China's ability to make its own advanced microchips. It has also stepped up the pressure it has been putting on Japan, the Netherlands and other allies to expand export restrictions to China.
The Dutch company ASML, the world's largest lithography enterprise, is at the center of these efforts.Under pressure from the United States, ASML, which owns the world's largest lithography enterprise, has had to suspend exports of its extreme ultraviolet lithography equipment and export only earlier generation equipment with less accuracy instead.
Although Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte claimed that he has not felt pressured by Washington to adopt more restrictions on semiconductor exports to China, that pressure is being applied nonetheless.
According to a Bloomberg report, US officials have been lobbying the Dutch authorities to further expand the scope of the ban on the exports of EUV equipment to include the latest generation deep ultraviolet lithography equipment.
In a television interview two days before Rutte's meeting with Biden, Dutch Trade and Development Cooperation Minister Liesje Schreinemacher admitted that the Dutch government had been talking "with the Americans for a long time", but Washington "couldn't say that because they have put pressure on us for two years", now that it had introduced its new restrictions, the Netherlands had to agree, "we will not".
Nonetheless, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reportedly had "very productive" talks last week on semiconductor-related export controls on China, when he met with Biden in Washington on Jan 13. Japan's Ambassador to the United States Koji Tomita said after their meeting that it was a complicated issue that required coordination with the industry, but that both Japan and the US expected progress on the issue in coming weeks.
And following his conversation with Biden, Rutte said that "step by step we will be able to reach a good outcome in cooperation". Which should serve as a reminder to China that it cannot pin its hopes on others. It must reinforce its resolve to secure self-reliance in science and technology.
Contrary to what the US seems to believe, China is not trying to usurp the US' technological hegemony per se. The country's sights are firmly set on the global frontiers of science and technology as that serves national economic development and thus people's well-being. In doing so, that will also produce benefits for the world. Collaboration and cooperation are the driving force for scientific progress, the US attempts to dictate who can have dealings with who are vandalous spanners being thrown into the works.