So far, the export restrictions imposed by the US and Dutch authorities on the activities of the world’s largest manufacturer of lithographic scanners ASML mainly concerned the supply of this or that equipment to China. A new wave of restrictions is said Bloombergmay result in ASML’s Chinese customers being unable to repair devices already purchased.
According to the source, the Dutch authorities will introduce corresponding additions to the export control rules at the request of their American colleagues. Technically, a lithography repair and maintenance company in China could get a special license to continue doing this, but the Dutch authorities now have legal grounds to refuse such a license.
US authorities will further limit Dutch ASML’s ability to supply China with a range of lithography scanners that use fairly mature DUV technology but allow 5nm chips to be manufactured. Such bans apply to about six companies in China, including the facilities of SMIC, China’s largest contract chipmaker. Again, ASML would theoretically still be able to negotiate such deliveries with the US authorities, but the chances of success would be minimal.
US law gives authorities the right to restrict the supply of technology and equipment between third countries if the exported items contain US-origin elements or software. The situation with ASML lithography equipment shipped to China falls under this US control system.
ASML may require separate maintenance and repair authorizations for equipment already sold and operating in China under this US initiative. Lithography equipment requires foreign-made consumables and parts, so US authorities want to remove the ability of Chinese ASML customers to use equipment that is already legally purchased. These restrictions are expected to affect the same six companies in China as when supplying new ASML devices. Similar restrictions on repairing American equipment were introduced last October, and now US authorities are merely synchronizing their efforts with those of their Dutch counterparts.