back to article The US would sooner see TSMC fabs burn than let China have them

The US would sooner see TSMC fabs destroyed than fall into Chinese hands should Xi Jinping invade Taiwan, according to a former national security advisor to the Trump administration. “The United States and its allies are never going to let those factories fall into Chinese hands," Robert O’Brien said at the Global Security …

  1. TheInstigator

    In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

    ... destroy what they're after first ...

    Is that the best strategic thinking we've come up with after 2000+ years on this Earth?

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

      Sadly yes. I think it was applied for the 6000 years before as well.

    2. Cxwf

      Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

      Your skepticism would seem to be mirrored by the people who live there, who aren’t too fond of the idea. It’s a lot more palatable to, just throwing out hypothetical scenarios here, perhaps a foreign military that just happens to be there temporarily for the specific purpose of securing THAT resource.

      So I can easily believe that the US would do this despite the questionable results for the locals. Then again, maybe the concept that the decision would be out of the locals’ hands would make the whole plan a better deterrent to China - there’s no point if they don’t believe we’d really do it.

      1. TheInstigator

        Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

        @Cxwf I can well imagine the US wouldn't think twice of doing this for the Taiwanese or getting the Taiwanese to do it to themselves - but if the situation were reversed and the US had to do something like this to their own country - I wonder whether they'd be so quick to jump to this solution ...

        It's a bit like Mutually Assured Destruction with regard to nuclear war

        1. Bbuckley

          Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

          Here's the thing though. Some years back I was sent by my company to Phoenix Arizona for a couple of weeks. During my low-flying (20,000 feet) internal flight, the passenger next to me struck up a convo and, long story short, pointed out the *dozens* of big, black perfect circles down there. They were nuclear test explosions! Yep. The USA nuked itself many times during the 1950's and 60's.

          1. TheInstigator

            Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

            @Bbuckley Semantics dear boy - as I'm sure you well know

      2. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

        Since when has America ever cared what the locals think about anything?

        Empires don't work like that.

    3. cyberdemon Silver badge
      Mushroom

      The End is Nigh!

      Said a piece of mould on a Petri-dish..

      But don't bother praying or repenting. There is no God. You're just another piece of mould on the dish, and the resources have run out.

      There will be war. There will be Strife. But there will be no winners.

    4. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

      "... destroy what they're after first ..."

      More destroy what they're after if and only if they are going to take it, and make it so clear that you will do it that they realize the invasion will deny them what they want. If you could reliably do it, it would work, but I'm guessing the level of reliable is too high for Taiwan to make that promise so consistently. This also depends whether China is ruled by someone crazy enough to prefer a shattered Taiwan under their control over a functioning global economy and not having democratic nations pondering war with them, which for a while has been there. Now that they're no longer trying to replace people, it's just a test to see if Xi comes down with Putin syndrome or not as he ages.

      1. BOFH in Training

        Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

        You are assuming China wants Taiwan only cos of TSMC.

        But China has been threatening to invade Taiwan since the 1950s or so. TSMC was not even an idea at that time.

        China may not be bothered about the industry or people in Taiwan, as long as they get to control Taiwan.

        1. Catkin Silver badge

          Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

          It may not be the only piece of the puzzle but that's how deterrence works: you either reduce the possibility that an opponent might be able to acquire something they want in-tact, you increase the cost to acquire it or you increase the consequences faced for acquiring it. Hopefully, you eventually reach a part where the opponent loses interest. It's important to identify every potential incentive because, taken together, they're the droplets that make up the ocean.

        2. jmch Silver badge

          Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

          "China may not be bothered about the industry or people in Taiwan, as long as they get to control Taiwan."

          Absolutely this. For them it's a long game, Taiwan is theirs, its only a matter of time. They have already shown the lengths they will go to in Tibet and with the Uyghurs... if that is what it takes they will murder, imprison or brainwash every non-compliant person in Taiwan, and if it takes a couple of generations for Chinesification, they can wait that long no problem.

          For China, the TSMC fabs are a bonus but very far from the main prize. I think the real reason why China is treading with caution is that they are wary of narrative colliding with reality. For all their huge control over Chinese media and Internet, they know that they cannot have complete control to the extent that they want. They also know that, contrary to their propaganda, the Taiwanese are not going to welcome them with open arms, and are, thanks to the US, heavily armed. A long war of attrition would not look good and would ruin their public pretense of being welcomed in Taiwan. And they can see how Russia-Ukraine is playing out, even with Russia sharing a large and relatively flat land border with Ukraine.

          Taiwan is bigger than Sicily with a population of 24m+ and a large and well-equipped army/navy. Landing an invasion force on Taiwan large enough to take it over would require a huge effort from China and a huge cost politically, militarily, and in terms of commerce and international support.

          1. Bbuckley

            Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

            And very likely the end of the current Chinese regime once the radiation clouds clear.

            1. Obelus

              Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

              And the end of Washington and London in similar radiation clouds. Putin has just been admonished for threatening to use nuclear weapons but here we are doing exactly the same."The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible," the G20 leaders said

        3. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

          The fabs are not the only thing on Taiwan that China would like, but they are quite valuable and would help them a lot. If they had the chance to snap those up quickly, they certainly would. Destroying them has two advantages for deterring China's invasion: China would no longer get to add them to its manufacturing assets, thus giving it an even stronger position in more products, and they would no longer have access to the TSMC products they use. Just as other countries would suffer from the lack of TSMC-produced parts, China imports plenty of them and would no longer have that source. Leaving them intact during an invasion would allow China to have a strong position in advanced semiconductor manufacturing and to both deny access to the results and to have as many as they want.

          This doesn't mean that a consistent threat to destroy them would certainly prevent China from invading, but it would be a large item in the "reasons to wait and invade them later" list, and the items on that list are the strongest barrier to starting that invasion since the barriers "people there don't want you to" and "they pose no offensive threat to you" aren't major concerns for China.

        4. Bbuckley

          Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

          I agree. History tells us most invasions are for some narcissist moron's ego than anything else. Just look at Ukraine.

    5. Tams

      Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

      Like many things in life; yes. And it works.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

        With apologies for the paraphrasing of Douglas Adams (I can't find the original quote):

        1) defence: I'm going to kill you because you're trying to kill me

        2) revenge: I'm going to kill you because you killed my brother

        3) diplomacy: I'm going to kill my brother and then kill you on the pretext that you did it.

    6. EarthDog

      Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

      It worked for the Russians and the Soviets.

    7. HammerOn1024

      Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

      It's worked well for thousands of years. Have you never heard of "Scorched Earth?"

    8. Bbuckley

      Re: In order to stop another country from destroying you ....

      What is really sad is that this state of affairs is the result of corporate greedy globalization (American spelling intentional). Did they *really* believe the poorer areas of the world would simply comply with USA corporate greed? It is the most saddest thing IMO, how can people just not learn about Human nature and History?

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Isn't that their plan?

    China can probably gain some info from having a functional fan to examine but it's not like they are just going to take over the next shift without support and cooperation from ASML, Cyber and all the software makers.

    But if it was destroyed then you are going to have no choice but Korea for good stuff and China for most other semiconductors. So it would be like Russia invading Saudi, it's not to capture the oilfields it's to make your own supply more valuable.

    1. TheInstigator

      Re: Isn't that their plan?

      If China invaded Taiwan it would be just the impetus that the US would need to call for an invasion of China

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Isn't that their plan?

        I am not convinced America would invade China but the signs they are being positioned for the same treatment Russia has been getting of late has been clear for years.

        Victoria "Fuck the EU" Nuland's plans are progressing nicely. She's destabilised the Middle East, destroyed Russia, is destroying Europe, and that just leaves China.

        Project for the New American Century FTW,

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Isn't that their plan?

          >Project for the New American Century FTW,

          Isn't it New Zealand's turn?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Isn't that their plan?

            Hmmm with the government we have right no that would be a resounding NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: Isn't that their plan?

              Hey Saruman invested in local industry and brought jobs, and that forest was infested with dangerous trees

          2. EarthDog

            Re: Isn't that their plan?

            Sorry you'll have to queue up. We can get you in after Liechtenstein.

        2. Tams

          Re: Isn't that their plan?

          Or, you know, add bad and shelf serving as the US can be, they are not only the least worst option, but for many countries their only option if they want an ally who can beat back the other big powers.

          But I guess what an alliance means is lost on you.

          1. gandalfcn Silver badge

            Re: Isn't that their plan?

            "bad and self serving as the US can be, they are not only the least worst option" That depends entirely on where one lives. Most countries / people don't trust the USA, or the UK for that matter, for obvious reasons. It's also obvious why the US refuses to accept the ICC.

            1. Bbuckley

              Re: Isn't that their plan?

              The ICC is a communist tool. It is a disgrace for any country to support it.

              1. Obelus

                Re: Isn't that their plan?

                Biden's no supporter of the ICC but do his supportive comments after the recent indictment of Putin by the ICC make him a disgrace or a communist?

        3. gandalfcn Silver badge

          Re: Isn't that their plan?

          It isn't as if the USA doesn't have a track record in destabilising or invading countries for its selfish interests, is it /S

          In the early 60s when working in Chile I didn't understand why the Chilenos were so paranoid about the CIA, then Thatchers chum Pinochet led the CIA controlled military coup. Now I know the true extent of US perfidy since WWII starting with the 1949 Syrian coup d'état.

      2. rg287 Silver badge

        Re: Isn't that their plan?

        If China invaded Taiwan it would be just the impetus that the US would need to call for an invasion of China

        And how would they do that?

        The US has a far more advanced blue water surface fleet, but trying to invade China? Getting past their enormous green-water navy, the land-based air force and then going toe-to-toe with the PLA and civilian population? No.

        China's military has nowhere near the technological sophistication of the US. In neutral territory (e.g. a blue-water engagement), the US wins every time.

        But what they do have is numbers - at home, countering an invasion force? Numbers count for a lot when you're not doing force-projection. Domestic logistics & supply chain is massively easier. Unless the US is going to open with the use of tactical nukes to decapitate the chain of command, it ain't going to happen.

        I suppose - with Vietnamese support - you could try and occupy Hainan. But... why? What's it going to get you? You could also up the ante in the South China Sea and go turf the Chinese out their artificial islands in the Spratlys. But the mainland is a bridge (or twenty!) too far.

        1. TheInstigator

          Re: Isn't that their plan?

          "Unless the US is going to open with the use of tactical nukes to decapitate the chain of command, it ain't going to happen."

          This

    2. Gary Stewart

      Re: Isn't that their plan?

      TSMC is currently building new fabs and expanding old ones in the US. At this time it will not be their leading edge process but I see no

      reason why this could not quickly change if needed. Ditto with Samsung.

      As for China obtaining by the TSMC fab in Taiwan, running and getting spare parts for any of the leading edge manufacturing equipment,

      especially the ASML DUV lithography machines, would be extremely difficult although probably not impossible.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Isn't that their plan?

        DUV is a thing of the past anymore. Everything has moved to scanners, phase shifting, and lasers. We're well below the DUV spectrum now.

    3. very angry man

      Re: Isn't that their plan?

      Isn't this what the Americans'do

  3. An_Old_Dog Silver badge

    I am a Rock; I am an Islaaaaannnnnnd

    This reminds me of a strategic situation I encountered as a child. A virtually-impregnable tree fortress was defended by a small number of children, opposed by a larger number of children on the ground. The ground forces lobbed mudballs up at the fortress-dwellers; the fortress-dwellers returned a few of them, but they had no independent supply of mudballs. The ground forces made no attempt to rush the fortress (climb the tree while under fire). We merely lobbed mudballs at the fortress-dwellers who poked their heads up to return our fire. The fortress-dwellers eventually surrendered.

    If the PRC successfully invades Taiwan, and they capture TSMC intact, what will they do with it? My understanding is that Intel staff, at least, don't, in any major way, know how to fix or maintain the tools they use to produce their wafers. Instead, they rely on the companies which built those tools to service them. Will ASML, et. al. be trotting their techs over to a war zone to maintain and fix those machines? If I worked for ASML, I'd quit before I'd agree to go to a Taiwan which was under PRC control. I wouldn't want to be potentially questioned, detained, or worse.

    1. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: I am a Rock; I am an Islaaaaannnnnnd

      "If the PRC successfully invades Taiwan"; The operative word being if.

      Interesting that the USA has major domestic problems, really major, with a high %age of people also believing Putin's and traitorous IQ45's lies so it's no surprise that Biden is sabre rattling to divert attention away from internal strife. Worked for Maggie.

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: I am a Rock; I am an Islaaaaannnnnnd

        The operative word is "how".

        As in "How can China possibly invade Taiwan"?

        Bear in mind that D-Day was the biggest amphibious invasion in history, France was only across the English Channel and Germany didn't have satellites. Or air superiority. They also didn't know exactly where the landings were going to happen, and the Allies had done a couple of test runs in Italy and Sicily.

        So how can they possibly do it?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I am a Rock; I am an Islaaaaannnnnnd

          Naval blockade until they surrender probably.

          In an actual invasion, they have mass and are currently building the biggest navy in the world. Recent wargames came to the conclusion that both China & US would suffer appalling losses if China invaded, but China would probably lose. However, give them another 10 years building ships at the rate no other country can keep up with and the calculus may change. Appalling losses, but success.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: I am a Rock; I am an Islaaaaannnnnnd

          It would involve a lot of destruction and a lot of sacrificed Chinese soldiers. Both are the kind of thing that lead to civilian populations being rather unhappy with the people running the war, which would mean that a democratic nation is less likely to do it, and having done it, less likely to keep doing it long enough to have results. As Russia has demonstrated, when you don't have to worry about your people throwing you out of office, it's much easier to make them die in order to gain a shattered part of someone else's country. China has a lot of people and they don't really need all of them to keep living, which means that they can consider a war which would be rejected immediately by other countries on the basis that the body count would be way too high and the pain of the populace too extreme.

      2. llaryllama

        Re: I am a Rock; I am an Islaaaaannnnnnd

        Interesting that China has major domestic problems, really major, with a rapidly falling birth rate and high %age of people also believing the CCP propaganda machine so it's no surprise that Xi is sabre rattling to divert attention away from internal strife. Worked for the USSR.

    2. Bbuckley

      Re: I am a Rock; I am an Islaaaaannnnnnd

      Also every one of those tools would be destroyed well before the Chinese set foot in the factory. So not only would they not know how to maintain them, there would be nothing left to maintain. But as I said earlier, Chinese invasion threats do not come from some rational plan but from narcissist ego. Just like North Korea.

  4. ecofeco Silver badge

    Former advisor?

    So he doesn't make policy nor is an official spokesman for the government. Got it.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Former advisor?

      So he doesn't make policy nor is an official spokesman for the government.

      No, but he captured the entire essence of America's "Better dead than Red", "Rapture Ready" psyche, and what has many calling the US an arrogant, selfish, war-mongering, rogue nation, in one short sentence.

      I am sure he'd also have something to say if China, or any other nation, were to suggest pulling the rug from under American feet in the same way.

      But we're The Good Guys (TM) so it's okay.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. IGotOut Silver badge

    Comparison to OPEC

    is rather an odd one

    Hint, look into Petro Dollars.

    1. TheInstigator

      Re: Comparison to OPEC

      Following should be read in the voice of Jeremy Clarkson a la Top Gear ...

      "Some say Iraq was invaded not because of WMDs - because they didn't have any - but because they agreed to use the Petro Yuan" - nothing is written down anywhere (obviously) - so who knows whether it's true or not?

      https://www.wsj.com/articles/saudi-arabia-considers-accepting-yuan-instead-of-dollars-for-chinese-oil-sales-11647351541

      1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

        Re: Comparison to OPEC

        I thought it was a well documented move towards the Petro-Euro rather than the Petro-Yuan which sealed Saddam's fate, but "piss America off and reap the rewards" would seem to cover it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Comparison to OPEC

        Interesting article here from the FBI agent who interrogated Saddam. Saddam promoted the idea that Iraq still had WMD through the fear that Iran would attack if they realised that Iraq didn't have anything.

        https://edition.cnn.com/2023/03/14/opinions/saddam-hussein-iraq-war-interrogations-george-piro-bergen/index.html

        1. TheInstigator

          Re: Comparison to OPEC

          That sounds entirely plausible and should be beyond reproach ;)

          Given the FBI is an American justice organisation - whose country needed a pretext to invade Iraq ... I wouldn't expect them to come out with anything other than a rock solid justification of why a war was needed.

          Put it this way - if person A murdered person B - you couldn't just convict person A and throw them in jail - you need a body etc etc - so maybe a silo/bunker of where they had put WMDs, what their composition was etc would have been useful to get? But let's not bother about that hey?

          1. EarthDog

            Re: Comparison to OPEC

            the article says the opposite

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Comparison to OPEC

            Another gibbering idiot talking bullshit without bothering to read the actual article.

            By the time the interrogation process took place (over a year btw), everyone already knew that there were no WMD in Iraq. Piro was trying to find out why Saddam had said that there was. Since you obviously can't be arsed to read the article before spouting off about it, I will post the relevant bit here:

            Piro: So, what he told me was that, of course, Iraq did not have the WMD that we suspected he had; Saddam had given a critical speech in June of 2000, which was a speech where he said that Iraq had WMD, and a lot of people wanted to know why — if he didn’t have WMD, why did he give that speech? So they wanted me to ask him about the speech, and I looked for a way or an opportunity to bring up the topic and be able to have a candid conversation with him about the speech without him realizing I was interrogating him about WMD.

            And when he told me about that speech, his biggest enemy wasn’t the United States or Israel. His biggest enemy was Iran, and he told me he was constantly trying to balance or compete with Iran. Saddam’s biggest fear was that if Iran discovered how weak and vulnerable Iraq had become, nothing would prevent them from invading and taking southern Iraq. So, his goal was to keep Iran at bay.

            1. TheInstigator

              Re: Comparison to OPEC

              My point being - you don't invade a country and depose its leader without proof - and then try to seek proof after the fact ...

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Comparison to OPEC

                Who was trying to seek proof? The US by this point knew they were wrong and that no WMD existed.

                It was just one of the things Piro was trying to find out during his many conversations with Saddam that spanned 12 months. Why did he claim to have them, when he didn't? Turns out the answer to that question was Iran.

        2. EarthDog

          Re: Comparison to OPEC

          That's not at all what the article says or 10 years of weapons inspections. There were no WMDs

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Comparison to OPEC

            I am guessing you didn't actually read the article then. It doesn't say there were any WMD. The interrogator already knew that there weren't any when he started the talking to Saddam. It says the Saddam indicated that there were in 2000 as he thought Iran would attack if the Iranian regime thought Iraq was helpless. Why do idiots insist on talking nonsense about an article they couldn't be bothered to read?

            I will quote it here for you if it makes it any easier:

            Piro: So, what he told me was that, of course, Iraq did not have the WMD that we suspected he had; Saddam had given a critical speech in June of 2000, which was a speech where he said that Iraq had WMD, and a lot of people wanted to know why — if he didn’t have WMD, why did he give that speech? So they wanted me to ask him about the speech, and I looked for a way or an opportunity to bring up the topic and be able to have a candid conversation with him about the speech without him realizing I was interrogating him about WMD.

            And when he told me about that speech, his biggest enemy wasn’t the United States or Israel. His biggest enemy was Iran, and he told me he was constantly trying to balance or compete with Iran. Saddam’s biggest fear was that if Iran discovered how weak and vulnerable Iraq had become, nothing would prevent them from invading and taking southern Iraq. So, his goal was to keep Iran at bay.

  6. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Sounds a

    good policy....

    After all, in the event of someone invading this fair isle*, we'd be pulling the HDDs from the machinery and microwaving them.... no control programs and they'll be 2 and 5 ton pieces of scrap iron, even if the invader had the techs and the skills to set them up again.

    But to kill a fab...... open the doors to the machines.... throw in a handfull of fine graphite dust and close the doors again. end of any chance of making another wafer.

    *actually this would happen first rendering everything dead and gone ......except us cockroaches

  7. mark l 2 Silver badge

    I suspect that TSMC is the only reason the US are so willing to jump to the defense of Taiwan, if some natural disaster shut down all their fab on the island indefinitely, but after TSMC had opened their US plants. I suspect that the US response would be a lot less gung ho if China were to invade Taiwan.

    1. Tams

      It's a major reason, and had been a good play by Taiwan.

      But the US also wants to stop the expansion of the PRC. Don't respond are selfish, some not. The fact remains though, that the US are behind Taiwan for more reasons than just their fabs.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Thing is, China claims a lot of other places too. If they successfully invaded and held Taiwan, what about South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, etc? One way or other, China claims sovereignty over parts of all those nations. They're not entirely alone in doing so - Taiwan claims Okinawa for example - but only China has expressed the intent to resort to war (something Xi Xinping has previously said, in contrast to previous Chinese premiers).

      Open warfare across that part of the world cause havoc worldwide. China could not win if that's what they started, for the same reason Japan was never going to win WW2: US interdiction of commercial shipping by submarine attacks. If China did ever start breaking out a wider war, they'd lose all of their sea trade pretty much overnight, even if sanctions hadn't already done the job.

      1. fxkeh

        source?

        > what about South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, etc? One way or other, China claims sovereignty over parts of all those nations.

        Source for that? I've seen their "dash line" map that claims parts of the sea near other countries but nothing that claims parts of those nations themselves. (China does claim some territory that India and Pakistan control however)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: source?

          Islands are still parts of nations.

        2. BOFH in Training

          Re: source?

          Those "dash line maps" cover some islands / exclusive economic zone which belong to other countries in the area.

          So yeah, they are claiming parts of a bunch of countries in the region.

        3. llaryllama

          Re: source?

          Scarborough shoal; Senkaku islands; basically the entire coastline of Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia; Nepal (already started physically encroaching); India (also physically breached); Bhutan (illegal construction by China across the border); Indonesia (infringement of Indonesia's EEZ); Laos (China now claiming large parts of Laotian territory on historical precedent going back to the Yuan dynasty); Socotra Rock (South Korea); Mongolia; Myanmar; Tibet (already completely annexed, of course).

      2. llaryllama

        Taiwan's claims over certain islands are an interesting quirk of ROC history and its current relationship with the PRC. China has explicitly stated that Taiwan changing its constitution in any way will be considered an act of war so Taiwan is stuck with a slightly mad official charter claiming the whole of China as ROC territory. Obviously almost no Taiwanese actually believe in this as reality but we are stuck with it for now.

    3. TheInstigator

      @mark l 2

      100% agree

  8. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Mushroom

    The Gangster State

    China shouldn't take this threat lightly.

    Biden promised on TV that Nord Stream II would never be allowed to supply fuel to Germany, and a little later a pipe was destroyed by parties unknown --- nor has America, as intimated by people like Cruz when they were leaning on the West to refuse Russian fuel, been overflowing the European gap with cheap LPG to compensate..( Although they continue to whine about Germany and Eastern Europe having ever been 'addicted' to Russian fuel. )

    In the medium term this shall strengthen China and alienate Europeans against America; but the latter generally don't think in long terms.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The Gangster State

      Nah, the Americans would have bought it and privatised it then deregulated it and left it to blow itself up

    2. TheInstigator

      Re: The Gangster State

      "Biden promised on TV that Nord Stream II would never be allowed to supply fuel to Germany, and a little later a pipe was destroyed by parties unknown"

      So cause and effect? Or two unconnected (but happy) co-incidences? ;)

  9. very angry man

    Taiwan, great place to have a war!

    Good logistics,ports, air port ECT

    Already us bases

    Close to China

    Close to allies,Japan and Korea for troops rec/happy leave

    But most importantly a long way from usa

    Let's schedule the next war for Texas or Washington and see just how keen they are?

    1. RedGreen925 Bronze badge

      Must have missed most of American history, they are more than happy to burn it all down to rule over the ruins. They already did the test run on taking over Washington in January 2021 only their incompetence stopped that effort. Never underestimate their stupidity, they are a world class leader in it and a well seasoned practitioner of it as shown on many occasions.

  10. localzuk Silver badge

    Devastation

    The loss of TSMC would be devastating to both the west, and China. Both sides know this. So random belligerence and sabre rattling is likely the extent of China's current plans.

    Invasion would be premature - their own capabilities are a little limited when it comes to semiconductors. But, China are investing 1tn yuan in their semiconductor capability over the next 5 years, so may rapidly catch up, as they seem to be doing across most areas of their technological capabilities.

    So, I'd say "watch this space" for 5-10 years down the line tbh.

  11. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Foresight

    I'm pleased at least some U.S. officials have the foresight to contemplate these events. Although it's true that TSMC wouldn't be able to operate the fabs without Western machines and software, it could still allow China to use the fabs to put pressure on our economies. The best thing would simply be to take the pain and blow up the fabs or bomb them.

    MAYBE this fact would dissuade China from invading, but I doubt it. Their policy isn't based on rational thinking but the Messiah complex of their leader, who believes its his God-given task to unite Taiwan with the Motherland.

    I wonder what would happen if North Korea invades South Korea soon after China invades Taiwan. Then we wouldn't be able to secure our IC's from anywhere, as the capacity in the Western world is severely limited.

    IMHO the U.S. should simply force TSMC to transplant itself to the U.S. with the TSMC employees becoming U.S. citizens.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Foresight

      Are you seriously suggesting that the US should "force" a company and people from another democratic nation to move to the US and become US citizens?

      1. TheInstigator

        Re: Foresight

        I think so - because the US is the centre of the world and the origin of all good things dontcha know ...

      2. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

        Re: Foresight

        Yes. A Hyperpower can do such things. Besides, the U.S. is one of the best places to live, especially when you're rich and have skills sought after. Most Indians would murder someone to be able to move to the U.S.

        Also, Taiwan isn't a democratic nation since the U.S. doesn't recognize it as an independent state.

        Taiwan (and TSMC) are essentially done for. China's leader is hell-bent on reuniting Taiwan and sooner or later they'll invade the island. Maybe the U.S. will fight, maybe they won't. But it's out of sheer prudence we should contemplate this move to prevent severe economic damage to our economies.

        1. localzuk Silver badge

          Re: Foresight

          The US recognising them or not is irrelevant to whether they are democratic? They are a democracy. They hold elections, and have a semi-presidential political system.

          Taiwan aren't "essentially done for". China has other, bigger, problems than Taiwan right now. And China would be beyond stupid to try and retake Taiwan anytime soon.

          Forcing the citizens of another place, and a company, to move is not democratic... You're basically saying the US should take Taiwan. Which would not really be different to China taking them - they lose their independence.

          1. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

            Re: Foresight

            The forcing of the transplant would be "voluntary" of course. We certainly wouldn't force them at gunpoint. Soft power can be very persuasive if applied judiciously.

            Most TSMC engineers contemplating life living under a repressive Communist dictatorship would probably choose the U.S. route voluntarily anyway given the choice.

    2. BOFH in Training
      FAIL

      Re: Foresight

      So TSMC, the company, the employees and presumably the immediate families, and maybe also close relations like the uncle and cousin they hang out with. Ops can't have them leave Taiwan without their families, etc.

      So, transplant everyone in Taiwan to the US and make them citizens?

      Am sure everyone will agree to be uprooted from their homes and country (regardless TSMC employees or everyone else).

      1. Platinum blond(e)

        Re: Foresight

        Wait, don't uproot the Taiwanese. Just make Taiwan the US' 51st state!* Hey if it works for Hawaii, why not?

        *: ¡Lo siento, Puerto Rico! You'll have to wait. Again.

  12. Wolfclaw

    Once the US of A$$ get all those lovely FABs up and running, do you think scorched Taiwan would be an issue for them ?

  13. martinusher Silver badge

    The US doesn't understand China a bit.

    I don't know what the Chinese national anthem sounds like but I suspect it might be a Chinese version of the Ankh-Morpok anthem....

    https://youtu.be/EAqCbOJc6RU

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: The US doesn't understand China a bit.

      The real anthem is more martial, with instructions to soldiers to march against the enemies (when originally written, it meant the Japanese invaders of the 1930s and 1940s). An interesting fact about the anthem was that, during severe lockdowns and protests about them a few months ago, some people were using the first line of the anthem, which loosely translates as "Stand up, those who refuse to be slaves"*, to call for protests. Chinese internet censors therefore had to put in blocks on their own national anthem, or at least its lyrics. Maybe they should consider changing the words to match Pratchett's.

      * The official government translation into English is "Arise, we who refuse to be slaves!". Others translate it differently, but the meaning is basically the same.

  14. CGBS

    What goes around....

    When you look at the landscape of Taiwan's industry, its impossible to not see a pattern. From Morris Chang to Lisa Sue, all were more than willing to come use the US for its education system and to gain their business/financial experience. That is fine. The problem from many American's perspective is that they were also oh so willing to sell out to the mainland. They may have made a nice profit by playing both sides, but it has not in anyway gained them any sympathy. They did the clever thing and maximized their bottom lines, now they get to see if it works out for them.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: What goes around....

      Our problem in the US -- and by extension, "the West" -- is that we have this ingrained notion of 'sides'. Taiwan is the rump of the "Republic of China" -- the people that live and work there owe their primary fealty to their nation and they will act in the best interests of their companies, their families and their nation. So its perfectly logical for them to get educated in the US (paying dearly for the privilege, BTW) and to get work and business experience here but when they go home and start their businesses they're working to further their own interests. Which are, quite obviously, to sell as much product as they can, including product to the PRC. This was the meaning of "Globalization" before our rather ham-fisted Cold War mindset started screwing things up by pretending its still 1950-something or another.

      The 'sides' are a fiction. We're creating them by bribery, coercion or downright threats. We're putting all our effort into browbeating others instead of investing in our own people and facilities. In the process we're annoying a lot of people -- many will put up for it for the time being because they have to but don't confuse acquiescence with willing participation.

      TSMC is safe, at least from the Chinese. They know that there's more to making wafers than a building with machines in it, its a process that employs a vast number of participants, most highly skilled. The Chinese don't want to "own" it, they want to buy its output. If we in the US prevent them from doing this then they will develop their own versions of those processes -- make no mistake, the people in Taiwan are Chinese, too, the mainlanders are just as smart, they're very well resourced and there's a lot of them (and they're all highly motivated). The biggest danger to TSMC will be SMIC or similar -- not this week, not this year, maybe not even this decade (but I wouldn't bet on it) but eventually it will happen. And we'll still be standing on the sidelines producing our endless reams of paper (from our imported computers) telling everyone what and what not to do -- or else.

      1. TheInstigator

        Re: What goes around....

        @martinusher Totally agree.

        The thing with Taiwan is that if you look @ the area historically, it's a bit like comparing Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - the shiny reason of why the West has got involved is to preserve freedom, liberty and democracy, but looking at it from another perspective, if you wanted to restrict another country's growth, one way is to sow discord and strife and promote a fractured society.

        As the saying goes - one man's freedom fighter is another man's ... bad person

        Democracy is a great idea - and I've said often I'd rather live in a democratic country than autocratic - but democracy is by no means perfect and quite how it would scale to a country who's population is as vast as China is anyone's guess - it seems to be with the relatively smaller populations that countries have in the West, decisions often take months or longer to make and are debated to death ... imagine that - but worse ....

        1. martinusher Silver badge

          Re: What goes around....

          Large countries like the US, Canada, Australia, Russia and China are federations. So we might have a federal government in DC that sets overall national priorities but its the provincial governments that do most of the heavy lifting, the day to day running of the country. This is the conceptual bait and switch that's done on us by the propagandists -- we live in a democratic federation but they live in a centralized dictatorship. That's just not how a country like China works -- you can't run 1.3billion people from one office (much as innumerable bureaucrats would love to).

          Prior to 1949 China was a bit of a mess. It was run by local warlords (what we might call 'cartels' in modern Mexico) who formed temporary alliances among each other. One of the more successful was Chaing Kai-Shek who understood the western dimension and so positioned himself as the head of a western type "Republic of China" democracy. I won't bore you with the details of the Japanese occupation and post WW2 civil war but suffice to say that at the conclusion of the civil war in 1949 and the founding of the PRC the rump of Kia-shek's government and army decamped to Formosa -- Taiwan -- and set up the one and true Chinese government there. Since the PRC was communist he was guaranteed western support despite the next few decades not being at all 'democratic' on Tiawan. Things became like they are today due the US finally recognizing China as the PRC and leaving Taiwan in a sort of vague limbo with its status in permanent "TBD".

          All this is well documented and is worth looking up. This does lead to the inescapable conclusion that while China proper doesn't want Taiwan to be a US base (think what it would be like for the Isle of Wight to be militarized by a hostile power) they aren't interested in destroying the place or its people. China is a very old society so they have time on their side.

          1. TheInstigator

            Re: What goes around....

            This reminds me of a certain situation in the Middle East - between two "countries" beginning with I and P

            I put countries in quotes because literal wars have been fought over whether they are countries or not - and legally recognised as such

            If you want the favour of the US to fall on your side of thought - you know what you have to do!

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: What goes around....

      @CGBS

      I think the USA can blame itself too and nothing is just black or white.

      Some opinions about the situation and the reasons for it here.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK0Y9j_CGgM

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t7lO0TlwUZw

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: What goes around....

      "The problem from many American's perspective is that they were also oh so willing to sell out to the mainland. They may have made a nice profit by playing both sides, but it has not in anyway gained them any sympathy. They did the clever thing and maximized their bottom lines, now they get to see if it works out for them."

      That's an interesting perspective. I take a very different one on both counts.

      First, about their education. They were not given anything by the United States. They came and got an education, but it's not as if that was funded by the U.S. government. They came and payed for that. Also, the U.S., like a lot of countries, doesn't automatically extend visas to graduating students. They would have to, and in many cases did, apply for permission to stay in the country without which they would be legally required to return to Taiwan or find somewhere else. You cannot expect someone to have loyalty to your country when they payed for everything they got and have to request permission to stay.

      Now about trading with China. Yes, they sold to China. So did everybody. It would be one thing if China was under sanction and the U.S. was refusing to deal with them, kind of like the way North Korea is treated by many countries. It wasn't. Expecting Taiwanese to refrain from selling to China when your country was happily doing so is a weird double standard.

      The people who started TSMC did a lot more for Taiwan by providing it a shield. Yes, the U.S. and other countries may come to Taiwan's aid if it's invaded for the same reasons that they do in Ukraine: because invasion and war crimes are wrong and we don't like the countries that do them. More countries may be willing to help or to pressure China not to because Taiwan has something they value and they don't have a self-interest reason to want China to just get it over with. Not to mention that TSMC, along with many other related companies, has grown Taiwan's economy much faster than just trading with the U.S. did. I see no reason for recrimination from the perspective of either a U.S. or a Taiwanese observer.

  15. Reginald O.
    Holmes

    Does it matter?

    China can and will take Taiwan militarily if they decide to do it. USA or no USA. Sanctions or no sanctions. That is a done deal.

    So, that begs the question of how to make Taiwan a sour grape? Destroying the fab shops would leave a sour taste, for sure. BUT, I am reading Taiwan isn't interested in self immolation. What's options remain?

    Not much I am thinking. I am also thinking when the day comes, and it will, that China decides it's time to take back Taiwan the people there will lay down and bah just like the sheep in Hong Kong.

    If that's true, the USA and the West should just walk away, quickly.

    (And, build fab shops somewhere else. It's known technology. Spend money on new factories rather than bombs and bullets.)

    1. llaryllama

      Re: Does it matter?

      China could destroy Taiwan for sure, but take it? Taiwan is called the unsinkable aircraft carrier for a reason - any pre-invasion build up on the Chinese side would be seen months in advance and physically landing troops is severely hampered by geography and weather through most of the year. Look how Ukraine manage to hold up against a shared land border using some old Soviet hand me down weapons - Taiwan has hundreds of modern fighter jets, advanced fast attack vessels and sophisticated home grown missile systems. How many sunken ships full of young men can the CCP regime handle before its population starts getting testy?

      1. Reginald O.

        Re: Does it matter?

        Taiwan has no chance militarily whatsoever. NONE. And, China could do it in an eye blink if they cared to. And, I stand on my suspicion the Taiwanese people would put up little to no fight.

        Of course, there will be consequences, mostly in regards to Chinese trade and business with the west. I am sure the Chinese are putting a lot of thought into how to minimize that. Once they triangulate the right course, BAM! It will be over.

        Smart Taiwanese are taking their money elsewhere and smart businessmen will start moving factory space to somewhere safe, if they haven't started already.

      2. TheInstigator

        Re: Does it matter?

        @llaryllama I suspect the only people that know the true score on the ground in Ukraine is the West - not even the Ukranian President knows the full picture I bet.

        Russia is not just fighting Ukraine - they're fighting the entire military know how of the West - who are giving Ukraine just enough weaponry to fight Russia to a stalemate - but not enough to make Russia resort to more destructive/drastic measures.

        I'm sure they're getting help in the personnel department as well as tactics etc

    2. TheInstigator

      Re: Does it matter?

      @Reginald O.

      "So, that begs the question of how to make Taiwan a sour grape?"

      The answer to this depends on what perspective you're looking at the situation from. If you're looking at it from the US perspective, one possible course of action - although rather unpalatable on the world stage - is to carry out area denial - nuke the whole of Taiwan and leave it a crater of glass.

      The Chinese can do what they want with it after.

      1. Obelus

        Re: Does it matter?

        I would say that would be extremely unlikely. From China's perspective, post a successful PLA invasion of Taiwan, a nuclear attack on the island with tens of thousands of stationed PLA forces (and millions of remaining

        civilians) would be seen as a massive escalation of attack on China proper. China would not be without retaliatory options.

  16. prh99

    I wouldn't be surprised if there are several cruise missiles reserved just for TSMC's facilities if China invades.

  17. Lars Silver badge
    Coat

    Not only ASML

    Apart from Netherlands chip builder ASML is about Zeiss alone with it's part of chip manufacturing, and a reason ASML has a stake of 24.9% in Zeiss.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHfQLjtLJdY

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like