Published: 10:42, September 27, 2023 | Updated: 10:42, September 27, 2023
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Dutch company eyes more opportunities in China's chip market
By Ma Si

The logo of ASML hangs on the head office in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, Jan 30, 2023. (PHOTO / FILE / AP)

Dutch chip manufacturing equipment provider ASML Holding NV is committed to serving the Chinese market, as the world's second-largest economy shows resilience amid challenges and the local semiconductor industry's growth offers big opportunities, a senior executive said.

Shen Bo, senior vice-president of ASML and president of ASML China, said that China continues to be one of the company's important business markets.

"Our long-term presence and business operation in China over the past three decades is a strong testimonial of our continuous confidence and commitment to the market," he said in a written interview with China Daily.

Although export control tension continues, ASML is still supporting China while complying with laws and regulations, the company said.

Earlier this month, the Netherlands' latest chip export control measures took effect, which restricted the export of certain advanced chipmaking equipment. ASML said it applied for and received licenses from the Dutch government, allowing it to continue shipping certain high-end immersion lithography systems to China this year.

ASML's lithography systems are needed to produce a wide range of semiconductors. CEO Peter Wennink had said earlier that in the past couple of years, around 15 percent of ASML's sales were in China.

The size of the Chinese semiconductor equipment market reached $28.3 billion in 2022, accounting for about 26 percent of the global market, and it is growing rapidly, according to data from Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International, a global chip industry association.

"With the growth of China's business, the number of our employees has been growing steadily. In 2017, we had less than 500 employees and now, the number is over 1,600," Shen said.

Currently, ASML has offices in 16 Chinese cities. It also has 11 warehousing and logistics centers, three development centers, a training center and a repair center in China.

"We have a team of more than 800 customer support engineers to ensure smooth operation of our holistic lithographic solutions in China, with 95 percent local solving power," Shen said.

He pointed out that the company set up development centers in China to provide better customer support. "Moving forward, we will continue to expand our team to support the development of our sustainable, growing business in China."

In the face of complex international headwinds, China's economy has shown strong resilience, and the fundamentals for long-term development of the China market remain unchanged, he added.

In July, ASML told China Daily that there were no major changes to the company's 2023 recruitment plans in China. The company was responding to foreign media reports that said ASML would scale down its global recruitment plan this year.

The Dutch company reported a rise in the shipment of chipmaking machines to China in the second quarter, as sales in China defied a slowdown in the global chip sector. "We appreciate the continuous opening-up and favorable business environment in China," Shen said.

Roger Sheng, vice-president of research at United States market research company Gartner Inc, said the semiconductor industrial chain is highly globalized and no country can operate on its own. Greater international cooperation is needed to help the industry deal with the ongoing decline in demand, he said.