GT Voice: Taiwan island’s chip industry has been overrated under Washington’ cajolery
Published: Mar 01, 2021 09:33 PM
An employee showcases a semiconductor integrated circuit at an industry expo. Photo: VCG

An employee showcases a semiconductor integrated circuit at an industry expo. Photo: VCG

After Chinese mainland recently suspended pineapple imports from Taiwan island due to the detection of pests, rounds of politicized hype have been heated on the island with some netizens even clamoring to ban chip exports to the mainland as a "retaliatory". Absurd as it is, it's actually the US-led Western countries pulling the string by creating a fantasy for Taiwan to overrate the strategic significance of its chip industry.

While the world has witnessed a sudden shortage of chips amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan island, as one of the world's largest contract chipmakers, has been put under spotlight, seeing increasing pressure from the US and others to boost production. 

US Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a die-hard China hawk, has been eyeing Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), a leading Taiwan-based chip manufacturer, claiming that the US has high dependence on TSMC's supply and should prevent the chipmaker being "controlled" by Chinese mainland, according to media reports.

Indeed, Taiwan maintains advantage in chip manufacturing. However, it doesn't mean that Taiwan's chip sector has occupied a non-substitutable stance so that it could be "weaponized" against Chinese mainland, while overestimating the strategic significance of its chip industry will be an ill-conceived approach as it'll cost the superiority of its competitive sector in the future.

For starters, the temporary ban on pineapple imports from Taiwan island is a part of normal trade practice, rather than a political move, not to mention that the continuous growing of export to Chinese mainland - accounting for over 40 percent of its total export - has been firmly supporting economic growth of the island.

Whereas the current shortfall of chip supply and the US' fear over the advancing of China's science and technology areas have prompted those foreign China hawks to keep playing Taiwan card and misleading Taiwan into a detrimental path by politicizing its leading industry.

In fact, Taiwan's chip manufacturing is not irreplaceable in spite of its advantages. Both South Korea and Japan possess competitiveness and eagerly longing for expansion of market share in Chinese mainland.

Also, the Chinese mainland has achieved noteworthy growth in its own chip making sectors. As the world's largest market for chips, the Chinese mainland is of huge significance for every chip developer across the world.

Cutting ties between Taiwan-based chipmakers and the market of Chinese mainland will devastate the development of the firms. Represented by TSMC, Taiwan chipmakers have long adopted an international orientation to lay out operations in global market, including the most potential Chinese mainland.

We believe that calls to ban chip exports don't represent the mainstream voice of Taiwan island, and to some extent, they are just meaningless grumble from a few irrational netizens that have been misled by US' cajolery. From the perspective of the firms, involving into political games is the last thing they want as it will put their whole future at the edge of a cliff. The wise choice would be to better integrate into the promising growth of the Chinese mainland during the post-pandemic era.