The Chinese division of ASML, a leading Dutch semiconductor equipment manufacturer, announced on September 2 that it employed more than 1,500 employees in the country as of the end of August. The company also designated September 1 as its annual “ASML China Day,” upon which all domestic employees will enjoy an extra day off.
ASML is one of the largest semiconductor equipment manufacturers in the world, providing comprehensive key equipment to complex integrated circuit manufacturers globally. In 1988, ASML delivered its first stepper to the Chinese market, and in 2000, ASML China was formally established. The company has now explored the Chinese market for more than 30 years. At present, ASML has 15 offices, 11 warehousing and logistics centers, three R&D centers, one training center and one maintenance center in China.
Bloomberg quoted people familiar with the matter in a July report, saying that Washington D.C. had put pressure on the Netherlands to prohibit ASML from selling key equipment needed to produce chips to China. According to the report, the ban proposed by Washington is to significantly broaden the range and class of chipmaking gear needed to produce a large number of chips, with the aim of preventing China from becoming a global leader in chip production.
As an internationally important production area for integrated circuits, China is a market that ASML can not ignore. According to the firm’s financial report, in the first quarter of 2022, the company sold 62 lithography systems, of which the Chinese mainland market accounted for 34%, surpassing that of South Korea and Taiwan to become its largest market for lithography systems.
In response, on July 20, Nikkei Asia reported that Peter Wennink, the CEO of ASML, told investors, “I think we need to realize that China is an important player in the semiconductor industry, especially not [only] in the matured node, but also mainstream semiconductors. It is a very significant supplier of the global markets. So we just have to be careful what we’re doing.”
In June this year, ASML also said that in order to support the growth of its business in China, it will continue to expand its Chinese team this year, with plans to recruit more than 200 employees.