Security: Europe’s pushback against Chinese tech has only just begun


Amid growing international suspicion about China’s tech companies, a new report suggests the Chinese government could be behind the theft of corporate secrets from chip-making equipment business ASML. 

According to Dutch newspaper Financieele Dagbladtechnology stolen by employees at ASML in California was shared with XTAL, a company with links to the Chinese state.

ASML has a dominant position in selling circuitry technology used in making processors. Customers include leading chipmakers such as Intel, Samsung, TSMC, and GlobalFoundries.

Following the report, ASML, which is headquartered in Veldhoven in the Netherlands, downplayed what boss Peter Wennink disparagingly described as a “conspiracy theory”.

“The facts of the matter are that we were robbed by a handful of our own employees based in Silicon Valley, who had broken the law to enrich themselves,” Wennink said in the statement about the California incident, which resulted in a November 2018 court case in the US.

“Some of the individuals happened to be Chinese nationals, but individuals from other nations were also involved. We resent any suggestion that this event should have any implication for ASML conducting business in China.”

Last year, ASML did about €1.7bn ($1.9bn) of business in China and expected to do about the same this year. That is a significant part of the company’s business, which reported net sales of €10.9bn in 2018.

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