back to article China doesn’t need to take Taiwan’s fabs to escape US trade bans

Let's be clear about something: Even if Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), fell into Chinese hands in the event of an invasion, it wouldn't do them much good. Cut off from global materials supplies, intellectual property, electronic design software and manufacturing equipment, the facilities would be essentially …

  1. VoiceOfTruth

    The USA

    If there is a war to come, the USA will drag us into it. Even though it will only benefit the USA.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The USA

      Well, it would be a change of pace, since Europe brought USA twice into a war... even now Europe is doing very little to help Ukraine.

      1. tooltalk

        Re: The USA

        Yeah, Ukraine is mostly America's war.

      2. Tubz Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: The USA

        Semi-incorrect,

        WW1 German subs sinking passenger ships with US nationals onboard, after repeated warnings to stop resulted in declaration of war.

        WW2 Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbour, USA declared war on Japan, German/Italy on the 11th declared war on USA.

        When describing assistance to Ukraine, you cannot say Europe is doing nothing, UK and Poland probably just as big supports as USA, you have a very narrow vision of Europe.

    2. Ideasource Bronze badge

      Re: The USA

      It will benefit the governmental structures and the entrenched privileged, but the USA general citizenry will continue to be left any real benefit, left to roam from area to area hoping to build a cooking fire that doesn't signal the authorities to chase them out or lock them up.

      USA has majority citizenry that's held hostage with a world representation that spits in the face of reality.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Cut off from..."

    Not if they can capture enough for it - just remember how much valuable German technology was obtained by USA and URSS when Germany was finally invaded. Stalin started to deny US bombers taking off from East Europe airfields to destroy German factories because he was planning to loot them. China won't bomb Taiwan for the same reason - if it can try to obtain what it needs.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: "Cut off from..."

      Agreed. If China invades Taiwan, they will empty TSMC's buildings and ship the equipment to the mainland. I have watched first hand China execute that strategy via aquisition in the US. So the scortched earth policy would be the best one.

    2. tooltalk

      Re: "Cut off from..."

      or maybe not. Most Taiwanese aren't worried about China invasion. They know there are tons of money to be made in China and just want better integration with China's economy. It's no secret that most of CCP's chip initiatives are spearheaded by Taiwanese expats like Mong Sang Liang, a former head of R&D at TSMC, and many other former <fill in your Taiwanese company> engineers.

  3. Nifty

    I'm assuming there's already a 'break glass in case of Chinese invasion' emergency pull-cord. All Taiwanese chip fabs will become permanently useless and magically, all IP, designs and deep technology will reappear in the most optimal US state, together with the Taiwanese diaspora bosses and specialists that make it happen.

  4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    $1 trillion is a lot of anyone's money

    I think the article fails to consider the likely consequences of threatening to cost the US a trillion dollars worth of damage. Saddam Hussein probably had similar ideas in mind when he invaded Kuwait. "Hah, I'll have the Americans over a barrel now, and I can go on to threaten Saudi oil-fields, too!". The American reaction, however, was to treat this as something of an existential threat (to their economy, if not their territory) and found that quite a large number of other nations were in the same threatened position and willing to offer diplomatic support for military action.

    Hopefully President Xi has given the matter rather more consideration.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ""Hah, I'll have the Americans over a barrel now"

      "Hah, I'll have the Americans over a barrel now, and I can go on to threaten Saudi oil-fields, too!"

      -Dead guy

      "Hah, I'll have the Germans over a barrel now, and I can go on to threaten most of Europe"

      -Putin, who then having faceplanted, blew up one of his nations own pipelines expecting the EU to roll over and activate Nord Stream 2.

      ""Hah, I'll have the Americans over a barrel now, and I can go on to threaten the rest of Asia in an alliance with Germany!"

      -Emperor Hirohito of Japan, WW2, after pearl harbor.

      ""Hah, I'll have the Americans over a barrel now, and I can go on to threaten the whole of south east Asia too!"

      -Xi, if he chooses to ignore history and chooses to repeat it.

      Nobody can bend the USA over a barrel as readily as it can itself. Anyone else that tries does so at their peril. That's not an America F'Yeah. That's the sad cautionary tale of history. The US, like China and Russia, are their own worst enemies, and the leadership of all three would like to distract everyone by pointing the finger of blame at someone else. The smartest thing any of these nations could do is focus on actually addressing it's internal problems first. The US is not immune, as recent history suggests.

      ""Hah, We have those Iraqis and Afghans over a barrel now, and I can go on to strong arm policy and oil production across the whole of the middle-east!"

      -Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld while starting a decades long war ending with stunning failure, loss of life, and the decline of US influence across not only the mid east, but the world.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I don't think China would "invade" unless/until the received work of sufficient surrender. What they would do first would be to try extended blockades of some kind. Just making a lot of noise would scare away big ocean and air shipping companies, or at least add to costs because insurance rates would go up. It needn't be 100% effective to cause economic turmoil. Of course, the CCP's China would also suffer in that economic turmoil - so it would be real economic war.

  6. Sin2x

    For China Taiwan is a question of dignity and national integrity -- an existential question, not an economical one. And they will move soon after the 20th CCP Congress concludes.

  7. crayon

    China's policy has always been, still is, and will be on a peaceful reunification. Unless the Taiwan side does something silly like declare de jure independence, in which case China's anti-secession laws gives it the right to use force in response.

    Deng Xiaoping said something along the lines of "let's shelf the Taiwan problem for now, our generation may not have the wisdom to solve it, leave it to a future, wiser, generation". It's patently obvious that the current leader of Taiwan, Tsai Ing-wen, isn't one of the wiser ones. Her provocative and ultimately futile and self-defeating policies are the root cause of the rise in tensions.

    Even Elon Musk knows this (or maybe he's just looking out for his factory in Shanghai).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "peaceful"

      Sure, it will setup a "special operation" to achieve a "peaceful reunification" hindered by those "Nazists" who avoid it just because.

      "Peace" in the mouths of people like Xi and Putin has the same meaning it has in 1984.

    2. M.Heisenberg

      So the wise thing for the Taiwanese would be to roll over and accept Chinese sovereignty?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Especially given the whole claim that Taiwan was once part of China is itself fiction.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Both sides claimed that Formosa is part of China. Officially, it is still the position of Taiwan.

          Taiwan had the opportunity to get international recognition when Communist China got its seat in the UN in the '70, and refused it because Kuomintang was delusional and expected to reunite the country under its yoke.

  8. Lordrobot

    JOHN WAYNE and JOAN WAYNE WILL SAVE THE WORLD AGAIN....

    OK so let's start with some reality. 95% of the semiconductor global market is > 14nm. That is the market that China is focused on taking. They are not concerned about the 5% market. All the US focus on Semiconductors... China makes 1000 metric tons of steel a year. They pop out ships like popcorn. They own the global tool market for both hand tools and electric tools. They are the largest maker of pharmaceuticals, animal feed, and fertilizer. Textiles, textiles machinery and over 60% of the world's chemicals and growing. And Biden and John Waynes are crying over TSMC.

    Biden talks big but the US would not dare attack China. The US only attacks goat herders not nations with Nukes. And China can pop those babies out like popcorn and has hypersonics which the US doesn't have. This John Wayne stuff gets old.

    The US claims of being the tech centre are overrated. They always bring up ASML. ASML is Dutch. At some point, even the Dutch are going to recognize the US is only trying to hang on by its fingernails and harming Europe, the UK as it goes. The rest of Asia is holding together. China is not stopping its forward progress in chips. It has excellent chip designers and they have AI chip analysis. That is how ALIBABA built their server chips and combined DRAM with Logic. They are not behind in this, they are ahead in this and packaging. Huawei is still the largest provider of 5G in the world. China's approach is network capacity so you don't need a super smartphone if the heavy lifting is being done by the network. Muricans think 5G is about smartphones... WRONG... it's network capacity. And the US is a decade behind. Not to mention $400 billion behind in the antenna facility. That is Deloitte and Touche, not me.

    Looks like a lot of Murican Blowhard. The US used a lot of that BLOWHARD in Vietnam. Yeah that worked out real well. Afgoonistan too. A lot of John Wayne talk that fell rather short. But when you approach the world thinking you are tougher than a $2 Steak, you are bound to run into somebody tougher, the $1.98 Steak.

    As for all the semiconductor substrates and silicon materials to make chips, China produces everything they need other than the Dutch Lithography. China has ion implanters. In fact, their space station is replete with ION engines and conventional engines. ASML CEO isn't the one saying the ASML litho is too complex for the Chinese to build. He maintains they will have it in five years. Then what will happen to the market for ASML. The US will in fact have aided in destroying it. Because China will pop their Lithography out like popcorn and become the lowest-cost producer. So the go-it-alone JOHN WAYNE STYLE is a dead end.

    The most laughable stunt is that of all the markets the US has lost to China competition, the US Gov focuses on 5% of the semiconductor market. The Goal is to make Columbus OHIO the centre of Fabrication. Who is going to bring their designs to INTEL in Columbus OH? Nobody. Do you think Qualcomm will go to their competitors INTEL and share their chip designs? What are you going to do about that John Wayne... FORCE QUALCOMM to fab only in MURICA... at 3 x the cost?

    Then with 30 fab plants all fighting for the sliver that is 5% of the global market currently served by Samsung and TSMC, how will these FABs stay in business? Why would TSMC and SAMSUNG play patsy for the US Fabs to take their markets?

    So how is the JOE BIDEN TOUGH GUY STRATEGY WORKING OUT? Well US Semiconductor companies are all showing lower earnings, less R&D, shortage of supply in the supply chain. Turns out China makes all the wash chemicals for chip fab.

    Why not contemplate that Taiwan and Korea look at this GOV FAB GIVEAWAY nonsense as a threat to themselves? Why should they destroy their Chinese markets for VACATION JOE the 80 year old two-day-a-week guy. TSMC's largest Clients are Mainland China.

    When you want to look at US Gov Schemes you might want to look at FOXCONN in Wisconsin. The Great plan with TRUMP holding a gold shovel was 15,000 jobs and LCD panels built in Murica for Muricans... Well... to use a Wisconsin expression... "Well, that ain't happen'in!" Of the three buildings FOXCONN built, two are fully leased out to other companies, such as Tractor parts and that kind of thing. The great big freebee has now been scaled down to a microscopic data centre with a 180 jobs promised.

    These Gov deals are not manufacturing deals... they are REAL ESTATE SWEETHEART DEALS... It is all just a lot of JOHN WAYNE BLOWHARD...

    One other delightful thought I should mention. In a global recession, China's economy has always surged along with its GDP while Murica falls. This is because the poor economies of the world need China's lower-priced goods. China's Inflation is 1.4% and the US inflation is 8.2% but Joe Biden says that is an improvement. Now with the US sanctions on everyone, nobody wants to buy the US DEBT.

    So at the brink of a giant recession, Joe Biden escalates a Trade war with China... Trump's trade war was a resounding failure. Trump claimed it would fix the trade deficit. That shows he is an economic illiterate. Trade deficits are based on personal savings. Chinese save 34% of their incomes, Muricans save 1% but that is now gone with inflation. Meanwhile the Trade Deficit under the stable genius TRIPLED. TRIPLED! Guess Joe thought that was a good idea because he's at it again... With a recession that should Quadruple the US Trade Deficit.

    "Watch out there Pilgrim... or I may have to come over there and teach you some Manners..."

    Murica is chock full of manners these days.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: JOHN WAYNE and JOAN WAYNE WILL SAVE THE WORLD AGAIN....

      在普罗干达事工的慢日子?

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        Re: JOHN WAYNE and JOAN WAYNE WILL SAVE THE WORLD AGAIN....

        Thanks to Google AC's comment pans out to "The slow days of ministry in Propaganda". I think we get the drift.

        The problem with propaganda is that it works best when its rooted in reality. Nothing the OP said is false or even slightly inaccurate, as he indicated you can get much of this information from the American financial press. The problem we have is that this information contradicts our beliefs and conditioning which cause a lot of people to do the equivalent of stuffing their fingers in their ears and going "La! La! La!". (We also see an increase in ad-hominen attacks and often downright rudeness and abuse.)

        The situation we're in (in the US) is one that should be familiar to people in the UK. Fifty years ago our shelves were full of products made all over this country. We imported a lot but we also made a lot. As recently as the early 1990s WalMart was running ads on TV extolling their "buy American" policies. What happened was the lure of money -- the rise of financialization that put "shareholder value" and only duty of corporations. This justified the offshoring of capital intensive activities like manufacturing, a process that gradually built until you now can't buy anything mass produced that wasn't either made in China or incorporates a lot of Chinese components. (There was a bit of a panic recently when it was discovered that the F-35 engines included a Chinese made component.....the stuff gets everywhere.)

        Voices like mine who say that this will all end in tears were marginalized but -- suddenly -- major corporations' profits are being threatened so its time for the political solution. Sanctions, trade restrictions, anything rather than spent the time and resources to rebuild what has been lost over a generation or more. We want solutions and we want them now, and if we can't quickly rise up then we're going to work at pushing the other down. This has resulted in the resumption of a full on Cold War with China affecting not just trade but also people -- currently its not healthy to be a Chinese academic or tech worker in the US even though the so-called "China Policy" of the Trump administration has been discontinued. The Chinese response has been both subtle and predictable. We're messing up global supply chains so the Chinese just let it happen -- when it suits them -- and deals it -- again, when it suits them. The result is that buying a car is an expensive crap shoot but buying something off AliBaba is almost as quick and convenient as Amazon.

        As for Taiwan, China has been around for thousands of years so if nothing else it knows how to be patient. The primary driver of Taiwanese reunification will be economic. That's why the present Cold War situation is all about stoking fear, separating peoples, hyping threats and so on -- if there were normal trade and cultural flows the island would become too "Chinese" all by itself.

        1. Lordrobot

          Re: JOHN WAYNE and JOAN WAYNE WILL SAVE THE WORLD AGAIN....

          Well Yank, Those good ole John Wayne daze are over. The US and Britain share many reasons for destroying US businesses and I will list but a few, tiered toward Murica. As you lament the loss of your manufacturing capability to competitive forces. Yet you failed to mention Gov. Roll. I will taylor this to the the USA.

          1) Unions

          2) OSHA

          3) EPA

          4) IRS

          5) workforce, most absenteeism, most violence against employers, most theft against employers, most workers comp claims and most lawsuits against employers.

          6) Litigation... point to several absurd cases, Roundup and owens Corning silicon... I will not discuss the Barrister's view of cases lacking any form of causal evidence.

          7) FTC now determines which nation US may export products. Gov Control. This reduces earnings increases the US trade deficit etc.

          The above reasons do not even include local taxation or the anti-business sentiment of State and Local Gov.

          Quit crying in your Guiness. Both the US and UK earned this. Nothing can change this. Trump was your great reformer and he Taxed the Internet, destroyed the supply chain and planted the seeds of inflation with tariffs. Biden only made it worse.

          Asia has the largest markets. Not one US firm left Chinia in spit of the rhetoric. The US Trade Deficit post Trump tariffs increased by 300%.

          Milton Friedman told you this would happen. But the US is now along with the UK firmly entrenched with Marxist protectionism which only turns you into Venezuela eventually.

          The US soy farmer before Trump stupidly tweeted he would backstop soy losses Triggering Force Majeure on 65 MMT of soy contrast with China. All were made instantly voidable by this dope who knew nothing about trade or commodities. All gone in an instant. US soy farmers had produced 109 MMT of soy and had developed the largest US export Ag product ON THEIR OWN without US GOV assistance. Capitalism.

          Trump destroyed 200,000 of the 300,000 soy farmers in the US. Production this year was 34 MMt of soy. Brazil and Argentina doubled their production and have taken the market. China meanwhile is dredging the PARNA river so this is over for the US. Now who do you lament, who do you complain over this sad tale?

          Oh but but but you knew this was coming long ago? What ... that the world would catch up to the USA and UK and become competitive? Oh how sad you could not have stayed on top of a global agrarian society. That is over.

          As for the Ministry of Propaganda idiocy... any poster that uses a Mask from the Motion Picture V for Vendetta is pop culture lightweight. I am talking economics.

          The UK and USA are essentially anti-business. In the US, Apple Computer was started in a garage. Today your kid can't open a lemonade stand without Gov coming in and fining the parents.

          China has no UNIONs and it never will. The UNION mantra is less work more pay and honour the incompetent employee that sits on their backsides the longest.

          As for Taiwan, there will be a re-unification. 46% of the population of Taiwan identifies as Mainlanders. Tawian's largest trading partner is the Mainland. Younger people love revolution. Older populations loath them and the older population in Taiwan has the money and they don't want the US attempting to turn the island into Vietnam. Taiwan has a population of 23 million v 1.4 billion on the mainland. China can marshall an army of 760 million souls. The US antagonism as this article points out, is a play tool for the Mainland. When US politicians come to Taiwan, it scares the Island's population that they are coming to turn the island into Vietnam.

          Because you will not fight just Mainlanders, you will fight nearly half the population of Taiwan. Mainland China gets a good laugh when Joe Biden says he will send in US Troops. The Communist Party assembly sent a message back this week to increase China military power and to take the Island by force if needed. That was just a lob back to the US and their endless Blowhard.

          The EU grows at 1% in a good year. This will not be a good year. The UK has an every widening Berth in negative equity and the US is 30 T in the hole and nobody wants to buy their treasury bonds. They see you as a dying economy. And the UK should know about that. It took an enormous amount of bad leadership over the years to destroy the British Empire. The US never achieved the status of the British Empire even with their 900 military bases worldwide. But you too are falling. Asia is rising.

          Oh how sad it must be for you to have envisioned a lovely world where the US was forever on top and manufacturing everything for everyone else. Only to awaken to a more competitive world to compete with your fat lazy world. Oh how sad.

          You will never stop the rise of Asia. You didn't stop Vietnam. Today you are wearing communist shoes... oh my word... John Wayne dying with a pair of Communist Boots on. So I guess he didn't win Vietnam in that Movie after all... The Green Berets my heavens... The US solves all its problems with blood guts and war...

          Here in semiconductors where you can sell technology, Joe Biden Mr UNION cuts you off from the largest markets in the world. The shelf life of tech is like a carload of bananas in Needles California. Tech companies in the US all have earnings falling which means less R&D and layoffs. It is the Trumnp Soy fiasco all over again for what...? 1.2% of the US GDP.

          And while you are lulled into sleep as if this is important, 25% of the US GDP is Chemicals. And China is now the largest Chemicals producer in the world with 60% market share heading to 90%. So tell me how this will work out. Americans hate Chemical Companies look at Roundup and Dow Corning... You will soon chase them out to Asia. 25% of your GDP and Biden and Trump focused on destroying US Semiconductors which are a mere 1.2% of the GDP. I call this analysis the CHINA 1000 MMT of steel analysis. While you cheer the protectionism of Union Joe Biden and Dopy Trump the ignoramus, large swathes of your economy are breaking off in chunks and heading to Asia.

          But but but that's just the Ministry of Propaganda on a slow day... right...

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