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This Month


Taiwan 2.0


Girding for War, Taiwan Must Also Invest In Its Economic Future

By Bolaji Ojo

What’s at stake:
As Taiwan braces for a possible takeover by China, it must simultaneously ensure it can build upon decades of economic gains in semiconductors and services.

Taiwan is caught between the proverbial rock and hard place. It is preparing for two mutually exclusive futures, one of which is the preferred option and the other a fearful possibility it is hoping allies can help it fend off. The island could preserve its democratic, peaceful and prosperous existence or slide into the tortuous unknown of a military confrontation with China over Beijing’s demand for reunification with the mainland.

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Taiwan's Illustrious But Aging Semiconductor Pioneers

Taiwan Semiconductor Pioneers

By Judith Cheng

Taiwan’s pioneering generation of semiconductor entrepreneurs, many trained in the United States, are nearing the end of their careers. The list below highlights key players in the current Taiwanese chip industry, including those who will seek to maintain Taiwan’s dominance of global chip manufacturing.

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Taiwan's Semiconductor Industry Must Look Outward

Liang-Gee Chen, Taiwan's former Minister of Science and Technology.

By Judith Cheng

Liang-Gee Chen, Taiwan’s former Minister of Science and Technology, has proven to be a genuinely rare leader among Taiwanese officials. What drove Chen was not his political ambition. Rather, it was his passion for science — rooted in his own engineering background — that made Chen a uniquely qualified and vocal policy maker.

Chen earned B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from National Cheng Kung University in 1979, 1981, and 1986, respectively. Add to those credentials dozens of U.S. patents. Chen is also the longest-serving Minister of Science and Technology. During his more than three-year tenure (February 2017 to May 2019), he earned the moniker, “King of Ideas”. Chen’s management style differed sharply from politicians and policymakers. For instance, he wrote weekly internal emails designed to encourage more collaboration among civil servants. He also encouraged research in AI and promoted entrepreneurship, aiming to accelerate the transformation of Taiwan’s electronic industry from hardware to full-stack systems.

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The Tangled Triangle of Biden, Apple and TSMC

Apple CEO Tim Cook at the opening ceremony of TSMC's Arizona fabs. (Source: Apple)

By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake:
TSMC’s Arizona fabs are often portrayed as a necessity to help TSMC achieve much-needed global diversity in manufacturing. Meanwhile, Apple plays patriot by investing in “a stronger, brighter future” for America. To accept that picture as a reality is naïve. The real issue is what price the U.S. government will pay to curry favor with Tim Cook and Morris Chang during a must-win economic war with China.

The opening ceremony of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC)’s first Arizona fab in December was, by any industry’s standard, an epoch-making event.

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What's Plan B if TSMC is Shut Down?

Taiwan Strait and TSMC

By Ron Wilson

What’s at stake:
If the political confrontation over Taiwan collapses into military confrontation, major U.S. companies would lose access to the advanced chip processes upon which their leading products and their roadmaps depend. There are workarounds, but they are not easy, quick, or cheap.

What if it all goes wrong across the Taiwan Strait? Growing antagonism with the U.S., increasing political and economic pressure inside the People’s Republic of China, simple accident—there is a significant, if unpleasant, chance that combat could occur in Taiwan. And given the parties involved and their interests, Taiwan’s industry and infrastructure would certainly be casualties.

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