What happened: Dutch chip maker ASML is rejecting reports by newspaper Financieele Dagblad that employees passed privileged information to a Chinese firm with apparent links to the Ministry of Science and Technology. While ASML did indeed suffer the loss of intellectual property with significant commercial value, the company has denied that the theft was connected to the Chinese government. Meanwhile, ASML CEO Peter Wennik seemed confident that his company’s business with China would continue as usual, commenting, “We resent any suggestion that this event should have any implication for ASML conducting business in China.”
Why it’s important: ASML manufactures photolithography machines for the semiconductor industry, which utilizes them in the production of computer chips. Its business in China accounts for about one sixth of its total sales, and doubled to approximately $2 billion in 2018. It was also one of the companies that hailed a recent investment agreement between China and Europe that insures European companies will not be required to hand over their technologies in exchange for access to Chinese markets. But that hasn’t stopped the news of ASML’s IP loss from reigniting calls for the Dutch government to bar Huawei from being part of the Netherland’s 5G network, despite the tech giant having no connection to the theft.