Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) founder Morris Chang on Wednesday called on Taiwan’s democratic island to protect its semiconductor industry, amid raging sabers from China and unprecedented drought.
“Semiconductor manufacturing is an important industry influencing people’s daily lives, economy and defense,” Chang, 89, told an Economic Daily forum in Taipei.
“This is also the first industry in which Taiwan enjoys a competitive position in the global arena.”
“It has been very difficult to create such a leading chip industry for many years and it is also very difficult to maintain this advantage,” he said. “I urge government, society and TSMC to hold on to it.”
His warning comes two days after TSMC’s CEO, CC Wei, told investors that the company thinks the current global shortage of semiconductor chips could last until 2022.
Wei told JP Morgan analyst Gokul Hariharan: “We see demand continue to be high. And shortages will continue this year and will likely extend into 2022.”
His remarks came as new Intel CEO, Pat Gelsinger said Washington Post Office that the shortage could last “a few years”.
Both companies are investing billions of dollars in new capacity over the next few years.
Military tensions are on the rise
Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden met with semiconductor industry executives in Washington to discuss solutions to the chip crisis, the latest move in a broader effort to boost the industry. domestic chip industry.
The meetings come as the Chinese military is ramping up military incursions into Taiwan’s Air Defense Exclusion Zone (ADIZ) in recent weeks, raising fears that chip supplies could compromise. face with a further threat.
Ars Technica founder Jon Stokes wrote on his blog on April 14 that rising military tensions in the region could spur a “phased exodus” away from reliance on TSMC. , something that could take years to do.
Stokes wrote: “I should note that things like the initiation of a phased exodus from TSMC may have been done, based on all military activity around Taiwan at the moment. .
“Every entity that has a dependency on TSMC is currently in meetings trying to find a way to reduce that dependency so that if anything happens to TSMC they can survive.”
Drought, disruption of supply
At home, TSMC is facing problems of its own, including the worst drought in decades affecting water supply and disruption of power supply.
The backbone of a global $ 450 billion industry, providing computing power for everything from smartphones and automobiles to cutting-edge military equipment, TSMC was founded on the spot. is one of the wettest places in the world.
However, Taiwan didn’t experience a tropical storm in a year, and many of its rivers and reservoirs have shrunk since then, with the Tsengwen reservoir being less than 12% in capacity.
Earlier in April, the government introduced a water allocation regime to more than one million households and businesses in central Taiwan, with taps cut off for two days a week, Agence France-Presse reported.
TSMC alone uses 156,000 tons of water a day across Taiwan’s three scientific industrial parks in 2019 – equivalent to 60 Olympic-sized swimming pools, the agency said.
The company said in a statement: “TSMC has always maintained contingency plans for each phase of water restriction … So far there has been no impact on production.”
US chip giant Intel recently announced plans to invest $ 20 billion in two new plants in Arizona as part of a plan to meet growing global demand.
Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger told the BBC: “Having 80% of the total supply in Asia is not a pleasant way for the world to take a view of the technology that matters most.
“And the world needs a more balanced supply chain to do that.”
Report by Hwang Chun-mei to RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.