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The Biden administration has been trying to get the Netherlands on the same page since the U.S. Commerce Department announced in October new export controls aimed at China. The restrictions are intended to limit China’s ability to access advanced computing chips, develop and maintain supercomputers, and make advanced semiconductors.
“Together we’re working on how to keep a free and open Indo Pacific, and quite frankly the challenges of China,” Biden said at the start of their meeting.
Administration officials have reasoned that the export restrictions are necessary because China can use semiconductors to create advanced military systems including weapons of mass destruction; commit human rights abuses; and improve the speed and accuracy of its military decision making, planning and logistics.
Slowing Beijing’s access, however, will take plenty of help from allies for the U.S. export controls to have maximum impact. The Netherlands-based tech giant ASML is a major manufacturer of lithography machines that design and produce semiconductors. China is one of ASML’s biggest clients.
CEO Peter Wennink played down the impact of the U.S. export control regulations soon after the administration unveiled them last fall.
“Based on our initial assessment, the new restrictions do not amend the rules governing lithography equipment shipped by ASML out of the Netherlands and we expect the direct impact on ASML’s overall 2023 shipment plan to be limited,” he said.
ASML said last year that it expected company-wide 2022 sales to be around 21 billion euros.
The United States has also been in talks with Japan on tougher export restrictions to limit the sale of semiconductor manufacturing technology to China. Rutte’s visit comes after Biden hosted Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida last week for talks.
The United States and Japan, in a joint statement following the Oval Office meeting, said the two sides agreed to “sharpen our shared edge on economic security, including protection and promotion of critical and emerging technologies.”
China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin last week called on Japan and the Netherlands to resist U.S. pressure.
Rutte spoke by phone on Monday with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about Saturday’s Russian missile strike on an apartment building in Dnipro—one of the deadliest attacks on civilians in the nearly 11-month-old war. Authorities said the death toll from the strike rose to 40 and that 30 people remained missing Monday.
“These are horrible pictures and I think it strengthens even more our resolve to stay with Ukraine,” Rutte told reporters at the start of his meeting with Biden.
Biden praised Netherlands as one of the United States “strongest” allies, one that’s proven “very, very stalwart” in its support for Ukraine since Russia launched in its invasion in February. The Netherlands has committed about $2.7 billion (2.5 billion euros) in support for Ukraine this year. The money will be spent on military equipment, humanitarian, and diplomatic efforts.
The Dutch prime minister, for his part, praised Biden for leading the international effort to back Ukraine.
“History will judge in 2022 if the United States had not stepped up like you did things would have been very different,” Rutte said.
The two leaders were also to discuss plans for the Summit for Democracy, which they are co-hosting with Costa Rica, South Korea, and Zambia in late March.
Biden hosted the inaugural democracy summit in December 2021, which the administration billed as the start of a global conversation about how best to halt the backsliding of democracy.
Biden is the third U.S. president visited by Rutte, the Netherlands’ longest-serving prime minister. He earlier met with Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
By The Associated Press