Europe is weakening its tech ties with China: A day after it emerged that Germany is considering heavy restrictions on the use of Huawei and ZTE equipment in its 5G networks, the Netherlands confirmed it’s about to ban the export of more advanced chipmaking equipment to China.
First things first: On Tuesday, German media reported that the government was set to tell its big telecommunications providers to rip out the Chinese gear that’s pervasive in their 5G networks. Reuters subsequently confirmed that the government was considering the move, without naming specific manufacturers—though the names “Huawei” and “ZTE” go without saying.
China called the reported plan “hasty” and said it was “very puzzled and strongly dissatisfied.” If the German government really is planning to ban Huawei and ZTE’s 5G equipment, it would be a significant economic and geopolitical step, as China is Germany’s biggest trade partner.
Several years ago, Angela Merkel’s conservative-led administration rebuffed the U.S.’s insistence on shutting Huawei out of Germany’s 5G infrastructure—the Trump administration even threatened to reduce its intelligence-sharing with Germany over the issue. Now, it seems left-leaning Chancellor Olaf Scholz may make good on his recent promise to gradually reduce Germany’s dependence on Chinese trade.
The Netherlands is also falling in line with the U.S. approach to China’s perceived national security threats.
As I wrote at the end of January, the Netherlands and Japan agreed in principle to join the U.S. in avoiding the sale of advanced equipment to Chinese chip manufacturers, given the possibility of the Chinese military using those chips in weaponry and A.I. systems. At the time, the crucial Dutch equipment maker ASML—which already stopped exporting its top-grade ultraviolet (EUV) kit to China a few years ago—was uncertain how much of its second-best deep ultraviolet (DUV) technology would be covered by the latest export controls.
ASML warned that an overly broad ban could damage production of the non-cutting-edge chips that feed the world’s tech supply chains, but it got what seems to be good news late yesterday when the Dutch government finally gave details of its new policy—sales of only the “most advanced” DUV systems would be controlled. ASML’s statement yesterday suggested it still didn’t have all the details it wanted from the government, but it expected the new export controls wouldn’t hit its financial outlook or its long-term plans.
Announcing the new controls, Dutch Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher didn’t refer to China—again, a major Dutch trading partner—by name. She said the equipment’s export would be limited to “prevent Dutch goods from contributing to undesirable end uses, such as military deployment or weapons of mass destruction,” and also to prevent “unwanted long-term strategic dependencies.”
Schreinemacher also pointed out that the controls would be most effective if implemented by countries around the world. She conceded that Russia will probably block the Dutch submission of the controls to the Wassenaar Arrangement—the 42-country export control regime that deals with “dual-use” technologies that can be used in military contexts—so the Netherlands will try to at least get the rest of the EU to join its enforcement effort.
Its success in doing so will provide a further gauge of how deep Europe’s technological decoupling from China is likely to go.
Want to send thoughts or suggestions to Data Sheet? Drop a line here.
Data Sheet’s daily news section was written and curated by Andrea Guzman.
The FBI bought U.S. location data. During a U.S. Senate hearing on global threats Wednesday, the FBI disclosed a past purchase of phone geolocation information. Director Christopher Wray explained that the FBI had purchased it for a national security pilot project that’s no longer active. Now, the bureau uses a “court authorized process” to collect location data, Wired reports.
Sam Altman’s latest investment. OpenAI’s CEO invested $180 million last year in a company aiming to increase the human life span. The San Francisco–based biotech firm, Retro Biosciences, is working to add 10 years to the “healthy human life span.”
“Twitter Files” hearing. A Federal Trade Commission investigation digging into Twitter’s security practices expanded when Elon Musk took over the company, as massive layoffs brought concern that Twitter wouldn’t be able to comply with agreements it made to protect data privacy. Now, ahead of a Capitol Hill hearing on Twitter documents, House Republicans released a report accusing the FTC of harassing Twitter and hitting the company with excessive demands, the Washington Post reports.
ON OUR FEED
“The world today pulls us in a million different directions. So the most important thing we, at Spotify, can do for creators is to reduce the distance between their art and the people who love it...or who would love it as soon as they discovered it.”
—Spotify chief product and technology officer Gustav Söderström, in a blog post announcing new features coming to the music-streaming app, including a TikTok-like feed
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Founded by Apple vets, startup Humane has raised $241 million without a single customer, by Jessica Mathews
Facebook parent Meta still pays women in the U.K. and Ireland less than men and gives them much smaller bonuses—despite previous commitments for gender parity by 2023, by Orianna Rosa Royle
Read the pitch deck cloud management startup Vantage used to raise $21 million in two weeks from VCs including a16z, by Anne Sraders
Iconic leftist intellectual Noam Chomsky says chatbots are ‘marvels of machine learning’ but also the banality of evil, rebooted, by Tristan Bove
Companies like Meta and Google are doing away with employee perks as they slash tens of thousands of jobs, by Chris Morris
BEFORE YOU GO
Netflix soups up subtitles. Viewers can now watch Stranger Things, Wednesday, and other shows on the streaming service with a wider variety of subtitles and closed captions. Now, subscribers can choose from three text sizes and four styles that include a drop shadow and text that contrasts with the background. With the update that’s now available, Netflix joins other platforms that have been offering a variety of subtitle options, like Hulu, HBO Max, and Disney+.
This is the web version of Data Sheet, a daily newsletter on the business of tech. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.