Former CEO of Europe’s largest technology company has a prediction on US-China chip war

The ongoing conflict between the United States and China over semiconductor technology is likely to persist for years, according to Peter Wennink, the recently retired CEO of ASML, Europe’s largest technology firm. In an interview with Dutch radio station BNR on Saturday, Wennink criticized the ideological nature of the dispute, stating, “These kinds of discussions are not being conducted based on facts, content, numbers, or data but on ideology.”

Wennink, who stepped down from ASML in April after a decade as CEO, expressed concern about the impact of ideological decisions on business operations. “If ideology cuts straight through that, I have problems with that,” he said, emphasizing the need to balance stakeholder interests.

The former CEO highlighted the complexities of navigating geopolitical tensions while maintaining business relationships. “You can think whatever you want about that, but we’re a business where the interests of your stakeholders have to be managed in balance,” Wennink explained. ASML, a key player in the global semiconductor industry, has faced increasing US restrictions on exporting its advanced chip-making equipment to China since 2018. The company’s position is particularly delicate, given that China is its second-largest market after Taiwan.

Wennink revealed his efforts to strike a balance, including lobbying against overly tight export restrictions and addressing intellectual property concerns with Chinese officials. “I think in Washington, maybe they sometimes thought, ‘That Mr. Wennink, maybe he’s a friend of China,'” he said. “No. I’m a friend to my customers, to my suppliers, to my employees, to my shareholders.”

Looking ahead, Wennink predicted a prolonged period of tension in the semiconductor industry. “This is going to go on for a while,” he concluded, suggesting that the geopolitical stakes could lead to decades of conflict in the chip sector.

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