A battle is brewing in Asia that has extremely important implications for the future. Martijn Rasser, a senior fellow at the Washington-based think tank Center for a New American Security, says that “By gaining control over Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, China would control the global market. They would have access to the most advanced manufacturing capabilities and that is even more valuable than controlling the world’s oil.”
China might decide that it is worth it to invade Taiwan in order to obtain chip manufacturing gear
SMIC is China’s largest foundry but remains several process nodes behind TSMC and Samsung
Rasser goes on to add that “Semiconductors are the ground zero of the global technology competition. They’re in everything that we need to function as a society.”
Last month, the outgoing top U.S. military commander in the Pacific said that China could invade Taiwan sometime during the next six years. The Biden administration could find itself having to help defend the U.S. tech industry by siding with Taiwan in any struggle with China. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the top contract manufacturer in the chip industry and it counts Apple as its largest customer.
SMIC and other foundries in China have been hoping to purchase the more advanced lithography equipment that would allow them to mark up wafers with extremely thin lines. These patterns help determine the placement of transistors on these wafers and are vital to the production of more powerful and energy-efficient chips. While China is having a hard time acquiring this gear, Taiwan is not.
Center for a New American Security’s Rasser states, “China’s been trying to get its hands on the equipment and so far it’s not been very successful.” What he says next might alarm you. “So you can easily imagine a scenario where Beijing decides it’s worth the risk and actually invade(s) Taiwan to gain control of this vital industry.
Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) said in a statement, “Taiwan is a serious area of interest not only because of what they represent as a people but the democracy they embrace. The free world should be concerned about the pivotal role they play in the semiconductor industry. It would be a miscalculation for China to believe they can ingest Taiwan.