[February 25, 2023](Comprehensive report by Epoch Times reporter Xia Yu) Last week, Dutch technology companiesASML(ASML Holding NV) announced that a former Chinese employee was suspected of stealing company data. U.S. investigators are looking into potential ties between the Chinese government and the former employee, Bloomberg reported on Feb. 24, and ASML is conducting a similar investigation of its own.
ASML’s interest in producing the world’s most advanced computerchipvery important.
The former employee based in China was identified as having potential ties to a Chinese government-backed entity and stealing data on behalf of the Chinese entity, two people familiar with the company’s investigation told Bloomberg. The sources asked not to be named because the information is not public. The entity has previously been linked to intellectual property theft, the people said, but did not provide the name of the Chinese entity.
U.S. government officials are investigating the former employee’s links to the Beijing government, a person familiar with the matter said.
The Dutch company is also investigating the employee’s links to the Chinese government itself, according to a person familiar with the matter. A company spokesman said ASML was conducting its own investigation and declined to comment further.
Representatives of the Chinese embassy in the United States did not immediately respond to Bloomberg’s request for comment, and Bloomberg could not reach the Chinese embassy in the Netherlands for comment. The Dutch government declined to comment on whether it was also investigating links between the former employee and the Chinese government.
last week,ASMLannounced that a former Chinese employee had stolen the company’s patented technology secrets.People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that the breach occurred in a repository that contains instructions for producing some of the world’s most advancedchipCritical lithography system details. ASML said the theft had no major impact on its business but may have violated export controls, exposing the company to potential regulatory penalties.
This is the second incident of stealing secrets related to China that ASML has encountered.
ASML is one of the few high-end semiconductor device manufacturers in the world and is also the focus of the chip war between the United States and China. Lithography technology is the core of chip manufacturers. At present, ASML is the only company in the world that can manufacture extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines. Under pressure from the United States, ASML has not been authorized to sell the most advanced extreme ultraviolet lithography machines to China.
The Dutch company launched an internal investigation and tightened security controls after discovering the alleged theft. After assessing that the theft may have violated export controls, ASML notified Dutch and US authorities.
Earlier this year, the Netherlands joined the United States in tightening restrictions on the export of chip technology to China. The Netherlands will also prevent ASML from selling at least some immersion lithography machines, the most advanced equipment in the company’s deep ultraviolet or DUV lithography line, to China, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The company will still be able to sell less complex chip-making systems to China.
ASML is critical to the chip industry, controlling more than 90% of the $17.1 billion global lithography equipment market by 2021, according to research firm Gartner Inc. The company has a near-monopoly on state-of-the-art lithography systems, making ASML a key piece of the chip industry and a target of Chinese espionage.
No company in China can produce chip-making tools like ASML. Without ASML machines, it would be difficult for the CCP to manufacture state-of-the-art chips. China is ASML’s third largest market after Taiwan and South Korea.
Editor in charge: Ye Ziwei