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More export sanctions against China could lead to an increase in theft of ASML’s intellectual property. The company will have to arm itself more against this, says CEO Peter Wennink in an interview with the Financial Times.

According to the CEO, ASML must invest more in security in the coming years. Wennink states in the interview that ASML will increase its security budget by double digits in the coming years to cope with the thousands of expected security incidents.

Security incident in annual report

Wennink is responding to, among other things, the security incident recently disclosed in the annual report in which a Chinese ex-employee managed to steal the company’s intellectual property. Although in the interview with the Financial Times he does not accuse China of actively stealing knowledge-sensitive information, the ASML CEO indicates that current geopolitical developments contribute to these activities.

He argues that it is common for a country to develop its own machines if they are cut off from doing so by sanctions or export bans. In the case of China, this would not be difficult. Therefore, ASML should start paying very close attention to whether its intellectual property does not fall into the wrong hands.

Possible agreement on additional sanctions

The interview with ASML’s CEO comes at a precarious time. This week, the Netherlands and Japan are expected to give a final indication as to whether or not they will go along with the additional export bans on chip manufacturing machinery requested by the U.S.

Wennink continues to oppose an export ban on the machines. Not only because it has implications for ASML itself, but in his view for the entire global chip system.

Read also: Investigations launched into spying by Chinese ex-employee ASML