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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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