back to article Taiwan to stay ahead of China as top chip manufacturing titan

Taiwan has become the world’s number one chipmaker, according to specialist semiconductor analyst house IC Inisghts. Teasing its new “Global Wafer Capacity 2020-2024” report, the firm found that as of December 2019 Taiwan held 21.6 percent of the global silicon market, ahead of South Korea’s 20.9 percent. Taiwan skipped past …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe...

    That was before the world realised that being too dependent in China was rather risky, and before China started bullying its neighbours and anyone who dared speak up.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Maybe...

      Step 1. Plan to bring chip production to the USA

      Step 2. Give TSMC big tax breaks to build a fab in the USA

      Step 3. Block inter-company transfer visas to stop any of TSMCs engineers visiting the USA to setup the fab

      Step 4. Profit ?

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Bureaucrats love killing Policy

        Yes, never underestimate the ability and DRIVE of lower-level bureaucrats to nobble strategy in the pursuit of small-minded power kicks.

        UK saw exactly the same thing a decade ago with the much trumpeted HSMP (Highly Skilled Migrant Programme). FINALLY, the UK had ONE mechanism for allowing in people whom you actually wanted and who would actively contribute. Only 20,000/yr of course, vs the rock-steady 600,000/yr arriving from the EU, but hey it's a start.

        The bureaucrats killed it. Fought every application tooth and nail. Despite the floods of would-be professional immigrants, never more than about 10k/yr were ever allowed in.

        The politicians still blithely made great announcements about new higher quotas every so often but meaningless because they never came within a bull's roar of even the original.

        Execution is the bane of Strategy.

  2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    It will be interesting whether Western countries put their money where their mouths are and start stumping up. Certainly, the costs for a modern fab are eye-watering, but I have seen some indications that Germany and France are beginning to consider it (not the same as really doing it). I suspect that both Blighty and the US will baulk at business that is not as usual. Certainly, despite fine words about Huawei, the UK has bugger all intention of actually doing anything.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Germany took a huge bath when it last subsidised chip factories: the factories were closed before the tax credits ran out. Though, the pressure to repeat this when the coalfields in eastern Germany close will probably mount.

      Chip manufacturing is very complicated and not all value is created in the fabs, which is one of the reasons why these are moving to lower (though not low) wage economies. There's still plenty of money to be made in chip design and in the machines that actually make the chips. IIRC the world-leader on chip lithography is a Dutch company. Countries are focussing on keeping those companies in European hands, because once that IP walks, we really will struggle.

      1. HildyJ Silver badge
        Facepalm

        The problem is that fabs are meant to be disposable, not reusable. A chip company can't afford the downtime to dismantle old production lines and install new equipment so they just build a new fab and demolish the old one when the new one is up and running.

  3. Mark Exclamation

    "Taiwan has become the world’s number one chipmaker,....." - at least until China marches in and takes everything, which it WILL do at some point in the future, especially when it realises no one can or will do anything about it.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Yep, China is most definitely becoming more belligerent, especially over territory. Look at the India border kerfuffle for a more recent and current issue, one of only many. They constantly pushing in small but increasing ways as if they are carefully testing others resolve.

  4. W.S.Gosset Silver badge
    Alert

    War

    Looks like Taiwan could very well be the flashpoint for hard war. The US already had a political commitment to protect them vs China but I hadn't seen these numbers indicating the sheer degree of under-the-hood industrial and economic entanglement in a key area.

    China's level of aggressive antagonism has been vastly higher for decades than most ElReg commentards seem aware of. But it has exploded since COVID-19, presumably because the CCP sees everyone as being weakened.

    Quick examples: China's Southern Command was formally put on a war footing last year (pre virus), the Antarctic icebreakers dressed up as Coast Guard have in recent weeks cut various vessels in half in other countries' territorial waters, aggressive airforce overflights including trying to ram other aircraft are through the roof including Taiwan, Japan, etc, multiple territory invasion and seizing in India, tremendous levels of threats and military manoeuvres and exercises at Taiwan (compared to normal), Hong Kong, cyber attacks have more than doubled, ... I could go on. And on, and on. And on.

    Point is, China plays brinkmanship as a primary tactic (as a fundamental cultural tactic, apparently -- I've read first-person Chinese and related documents over nearly 2000yrs which all describe the same) (and it works). At some point, the people they're attacking will reach their breaking point. And fight back.

    We're still currently in the "Peace In Our Time!" situation for most poliwonks.

    Taiwan is shaping up to be the next Poland.

    Prepare for war in the next couple of years, chaps.

    1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

      Re: War

      For example, in perhaps a year, shift your superannuation/pension fund investment allocation away from equities and into cash.

    2. randon8154

      Re: War

      +1 for your comment

      The simple fact that we depends of China for everything at the point that we concede when they pressure us (recent example : report of the UE for the covid) should be enough to wake up and see the incoming danger.

      Military force is one of the many tools they use to dominate : debt trap, flood of dangerous drugs, harassment of boat in their own territorial water... Today this happen in south china, but tomorrow...

      Ps : When I said China, I meant the CCP not the global chiness population

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