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Chinese leader Xi tells Dutch PM that restricting technology access won’t stop China’s advance

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BEIJING (AP) — Chinese leader Xi Jinping told visiting Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Wednesday that attempts to restrict China’s access to technology will not stop the country’s advance.

The Netherlands imposed export licensing requirements in 2023 on the sale of machinery that can make advanced processor chips. The move came after the United States blocked Chinese access to advanced chips and the equipment to make them, citing security concerns, and urged its allies to follow suit.

An online report from state broadcaster CCTV did not mention the chip machinery, but quoted Xi as saying that the creation of scientific and technological barriers and the fragmentation of the industrial and supply chains will lead to division and confrontation.

“The Chinese people also have the right to legitimate development, and no force can stop the pace of China’s scientific and technological development and progress,” Xi said, according to CCTV.

Dutch company ASML is the world’s only producer of machines that use extreme ultraviolet lithography to make advanced semiconductors. In 2023, China became ASML’s second-largest market, accounting for 29% of its revenue as Chinese companies bought up equipment before the licensing requirement took effect.

Rutte, speaking to journalists after his meeting, declined to go into specifics of the talks.

“What I can tell you is that … when we have to take measures, that they are never aimed at one country specifically, that we always try to make sure that the impact is limited, is not impacting the supply chain, and therefore is not impacting the overall economic relationship,” he said.

The Dutch leader, who was accompanied by Trade Minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen on the trip, said the top issue for him in their meetings with Xi and Chinese Premier Li Qiang was the war in Ukraine.

China has taken a neutral position on the war, providing Russia with diplomatic cover and economic support through trade. That stance has angered and frustrated much of Europe, which sees Russia as the aggressor and Ukraine as the victim.

Rutte said it’s important for China to understand that “this is a direct security threat for us, because if Russia will be successful in Ukraine, it will be a threat to the whole of Europe. It will not end with Ukraine.”

He added that he had asked China’s leaders “to put their considerable weight — and they can do that as far as I’m concerned in a very discreet way — but as much as possible on Russia to influence the course of events.”

ASML, the Netherlands’ largest company, recently threatened to leave the country over anti-immigration policies that may impact the company’s ability to hire talent, leaving government officials scrambling to ensure that the firm does not leave.

Van Leeuwen said this week in an interview with The FD, a Dutch business newspaper, that protecting the interests of ASML is a top priority but acknowledged that national security comes before economic interests.

Beijing has repeatedly accused the U.S. of trying to hold back China’s economic development by restricting access to technology. In response, Xi has launched a campaign to develop home-grown chips and other high-tech products.

“China always opposes the U.S. overstretching the concept of national security and making various excuses to coerce other countries into imposing a technological blockade against China,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said in January.

Rutte said that NATO and its growing ties with Asia did not come up at Wednesday’s talks. He is a leading candidate to be the next head of the alliance, which China has criticized for provoking regional tensions and making diplomatic forays into the Asia-Pacific region.

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Soo reported from Hong Kong. AP writer Michael Corder in The Hague, Netherlands contributed.

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