New Dutch Premier Schoof Calls for Wary Approach to China

(Bloomberg) -- The new prime minister of the Netherlands, Dick Schoof, said the country has to be “very careful” in its discussions with China related to national security, with his government set to confront questions about exports of sensitive chip-making equipment.

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“I’m very well aware that we have to be very careful at our eastern border in Europe but also with all our discussions with China in relation to national security,” former spy chief Schoof told Bloomberg News late Tuesday, shortly after being sworn in as the country’s new premier.

Schoof was appointed by the new coalition parties led by Geert Wilders’ far-right Freedom Party. After delivering a shock win in November’s elections, Wilders was forced to abandon his bid to become prime minister in order to move talks forward. The four coalition parties instead picked the former spy chief, who doesn’t hold a party affiliation.

The Netherlands has been a key ally in Washington’s efforts to hurt China’s semiconductor ambitions by restricting Dutch chip equipment maker ASML Holding NV’s exports to Beijing. The US has been pushing for more measures but the Dutch government under Mark Rutte’s leadership has been resisting the pressure.

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“The US is our trusted partner and our partnership is very important,” Schoof said. “We also strongly support the NATO,” he said, adding that he will travel to the US next week for the NATO leaders’ summit.

Meanwhile, Reinette Klever of Wilders’ Freedom Party became minister for foreign trade and development aid, a role that typically oversees the country’s export control policies. Klever said Tuesday that it’s too early to talk about whether the new government will get on board with new measures against China.

The new government led by Schoof was mandated by Wilders and his partners to significantly reduce migration, marking the most hard-right shift for the country in decades. The cabinet aims to invoke emergency legislation to limit the inflow of migrants and seek an opt-out from the European Union’s migration policy.

Dutch voters have made it clear that “they want less migration and more houses,” Schoof said, in response to a question on his priorities. “So these are the very important topics that will work on in our program.”

Schoof replaced Rutte, the country’s longest-serving premier, who will succeed Jens Stoltenberg as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s secretary general later this year.

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