ASML has reportedly installed a kill switch into an extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) machine it has sold to TSMC, allowing it to be shut down if China invades Taiwan.

According to a report from Bloomberg, ASML has allegedly reassured the Dutch government it has the ability to remotely disable the machine should an invasion occur.

One of ASML's EUV machines – ASML

Although no detailed information about the logistics of this remote shutdown has been disclosed, it’s believed the kill switch was added during the regular servicing and updating of the machine.

ASML has also reportedly run simulations on a possible invasion in order to better assess any potential risks.

The Netherlands-based company is the sole global supplier of EUV photolithography machines needed to make the most advanced 2nm chips.

In recent months, ASML has been at the center of the US government’s ongoing trade war with China, with the Dutch government increasingly succumbing to pressure from the Biden administration to block exports of its products to China.

In January 2024, the Dutch government revoked an export license to stop the shipment of two older lithography machines to Chinese customers.

While the invasion remains hypothetical, there have long been concerns that China could attempt to reunify the sovereign state of Taiwan with mainland China, with the Chinese government officially regarding the country as a breakaway province.

A speech given by Chen Wenling, chief economist for the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, in May 2022 saw him warn that should Russian-style sanctions be imposed on China by the US and allies, China "must recover Taiwan" and "seize TSMC, a company that originally belonged to China."

US military academics have also previously suggested that if China invades Taiwan, the country should instigate a ‘scorched earth policy’ and destroy its own semiconductor foundries in order to make itself a less useful and unattractive target.

Earlier this month, the US Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, told the House Appropriations Committee that a hypothetical Chinese invasion of Taiwan and seizure of TSMC would be “absolutely devastating” for the United States.

The United States buys 92 percent of its leading-edge chips from TSMC in Taiwan, meaning any disruption to that supply chain would have a significant impact on the US economy and data center market.