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The global shortage of microchips is making China look at Taiwan



One hundred miles off the coast of China is the world’s largest and most complex microchip manufacturer, Taiwan. These chips power the world’s cars, phones and computers.

China consumes more than half of them and wants more as its economy grows and increasingly turns a blind eye to their island neighbor to the east to get them – one day they worry about military power.

“Whoever oversees the design and manufacture of these microchips will set the course for the 21

st century,” said Martin Russer, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Center for New American Security.

“By gaining control of the semiconductor industry in Taiwan, China will control the world market,” Rasser said. “They will have access to state-of-the-art production facilities, and that’s even more valuable than oil control in the world.”

The global chip shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic is hurting sales at Apple, Samsung and Caterpillar. Ford says it expects to produce 1.1 million fewer vehicles. (Photo: Yoon S. Byun / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

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Last month, the top US military commander in the Pacific warned that China could invade Taiwan in the next six years.

Taiwan could prove to be one of Biden’s biggest governing points, forcing it to defend the island, which Beijing considers a renegade province, in part to preserve the vital semiconductor industry. In recent days, China has made dozens of planes, including jet fighters and long-range bombers, near Taiwan.

The global chip shortage caused by the coronavirus pandemic is hurting sales at Apple, Samsung and Caterpillar. Ford says it expects to produce 1.1 million fewer vehicles.

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“Semiconductors are the fundamental zero of global technological competition. They are in everything we need to function as a society,” Rasser said.

In a general address to Congress this week, President Biden said he had a message for the Chinese leader.

“In my discussions with the president, I said we welcome the race. We are not looking for a conflict. But I made it absolutely clear that we would defend America’s interests everywhere,” Biden said.

In a general address to Congress this week, President Biden said he had a message for the Chinese leader: “We will defend America’s interests across the board.” (Melina Mara / The Washington Post via AP, Pool)

About 70% of the world’s microchips (also known as semiconductors) are made in Taiwan and South Korea. Late last year, the Trump administration blacklisted dozens of Chinese companies, including the top chip maker of the communist nation. The goal was to end the use of American technology to produce modern weapons for the Chinese military.

The Biden administration followed suit.

Two weeks ago, the White House blacklisted seven Chinese companies to keep the world’s largest chip maker, Taiwan’s semiconductor company (TSMC), from selling advanced microchips to China. These chips would also be used to produce advanced weapons, officials said when the sanctions were announced. Beijing continues to lag behind in domestic chip production and relies on imports to support its growing economy.

“[China’s] is trying to get hold of the equipment and so far it has not been very successful. “So you can easily imagine a scenario in which Beijing decides it’s worth the risk and actually invades Taiwan to gain control of this vital industry.”

Former President Trump’s deputy secretary of state has some advice on the new Biden administration.

“We need to make it much clearer to the Chinese that they will be defeated if they seek to change the status of the Taiwan Strait,” Stephen Bigun told the Aspen Security Forum, moderated by Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin.

“We will not go to war if there is a ransom bought from TSMC [Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company], but it certainly only adds to the worries, “Bigun added.

Chinese missile frigate Yuncheng launches anti-ship missile during military exercise in waters near Hainan Islands and Paracel Islands in southern China in July 2016 (AP / Xinhua)

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The issue of Taiwan is also attracting the attention of many lawmakers.

“Taiwan is a major area of ​​interest not only because of what they represent as a people, but also because of the democracy they embrace. The free world must be concerned about the key role they play in the semiconductor industry. For China, it would be a miscalculation. they could swallow Taiwan, “Senator Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala. said in a statement to Fox News.

Both Defense Minister Lloyd Austin and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Millie, flew to Hawaii on Friday to change the command of the top military leader, whose job it is to monitor China’s every move.

General Millie met with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts before the ceremony. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the three military leaders since the pandemic, stressing the importance of the Pacific allies in deterring China.


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