China's Xi invites Dutch PM for visit, says don't politicise trade

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands welcomes China's President Xi Jinping on the second day of his state visit, at The Hague

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Chinese president Xi Jinping has invited Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to visit Beijing next year, following a bilateral meeting at the G20 conference in Bali in which Xi urged the Netherlands not to politicise trade.

Xi's remarks were an apparent reference to U.S. calls for allied countries including the Netherlands to adopt U.S. restrictions on exporting semiconductor manufacturing equipment to China.

"The Prime Minister received an invitation to come to China again, so those are steps in the continual political, diplomatic discussions," Dutch Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag said in an interview with BNR radio following the meeting, which she also attended, on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for Rutte's office said details of the possible visit to China were still being determined.

According to an official readout of the bilateral meeting published on the website of the Chinese foreign ministry, Xi asked Rutte to resist "the politicisation of economic and trade issues and maintain the stability of global supply chains".

China is the Netherlands' second largest trade partner after Germany, according to the Dutch statistics office CBS.

The Netherlands' largest company, ASML Holding NV, is a key maker of semiconductor equipment, with more than 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) of sales to customers in China in 2021.

In a Nov. 3 appearance on CNBC, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said she expected allied countries to adopt policies unveiled by the Biden administration in October.

"I think you'll see Japan and the Netherlands follow our lead," she said.

Dutch trade policy is generally set at the European level but since 2018, The Hague has denied ASML licences to export its most advanced products to China, as they are considered "dual use" equipment with possible military applications.

However, some equipment now restricted by the United States is not designated as "dual use". ASML, whose machines contain few U.S. parts, has said it intends to continue shipping that kit.

($1 = 0.9617 euros)

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Mark Potter)