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TSMC founder backs U.S. on China chip curbs

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. founder Morris Chang declared globalization for the chip industry over and expressed support for US efforts to limit China’s tech advancement through export curbs and company sanctions.

“In the chips sector, globalization is dead. Free trade is dead,” Chang said at an event in Taipei Thursday. “Just look at the way China has been embargoed and the entity list. I agree with that.”

The 91-year-old industry pioneer said that the global chip supply chain will grow even more bifurcated as the US acts to curtail China’s access to the most advanced technology, and “I certainly support that part of American industrial policy to slow down China’s progress.”

Chang said China is at least five to six years behind Taiwan in chipmaking technology, but he also cautioned Taiwan should not be naive about its position relative to the US. When American leaders speak of “friend-shoring” high-tech manufacturing, Taiwan is not included in that policy, Chang said, as they’ve repeatedly voiced concerns about relying on Taiwan.

US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo described US dependence on Taiwan for advanced chipmaking as “untenable” in July, and her country’s Chips and Science Act is designed to entice companies like TSMC and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. to set up operations within US borders. Taiwan and Korea have long been the epicenters of chipmaking — TSMC leads the way with cutting-edge logic processors like Apple Inc.’s bespoke Silicon parts while Samsung and SK Hynix Inc. dominate the memory market — which has led to increasing discomfort in the US and Europe.

Fears of China, which deems Taiwan part of its territory, attempting to seize the self-governing island by force have pushed some inside Washington to contemplate drastic measures. Among them, US officials have war-gamed scenarios where Taiwan’s sophisticated semiconductor industry would be wiped out to prevent it falling into China’s hands. Bloomberg

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