TSMC agrees to work with US on chip data, risks angering China
The move has raised alarm bells in China where there is concern that Washington will use confidential data to more precisely target Chinese enterprises that rely on the import of leading-edge silicon, according to a South China Morning Post report.
Apparently TSMC has now agreed to submit data after previously saying it couldn’t because of its confidential nature. TSMC has followed in the footsteps of a number of other chip companies including Intel, Infineon and SK Hynix who have now agreed to submit data ahead of a November 8 deadline set by the US Department of Commerce. This is increasing the pressure on other major chip companies – such as Samsung Electronics – that are yet to agree, the reports said.
Back in September the Department of Commerce said that in attempt to understand the prolonged semiconductor supply chain shortage it wanted chip manufacturers to supply information about sales, inventory and clients.
Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said that submission was voluntary and “will give us more information about the supply chain, and the goal is to increase transparency so we can try to identify where the bottlenecks (are) and then predict challenges.”
However, Raimondo warned that if companies did not answer the request voluntarily, “then we have other tools in our tool box that require them to give us data. I hope we don’t get there. But if we have to we will.”
The move is being seen by some, not as an attempt to help the semiconductor industry, but as the latest in a series of moves to re-establish the United States’ leading position in semiconductors before other regions – specifically China – overtake it and gain autonomy.
Next: China needs TSMC, Samsung
China does not have the ability to make leading-edge chips and relies, as the rest of the world does, on TSMC and Samsung for these components.
In 2019 and 2020 the US imposed an effective embargo – with the compliance of TSMC – on the supply of leading-edge silicon to Chinese communications equipment giant Huawei in 2019 and 2020 and this effectively knocked them out of the smartphone business.
TSMC holds more than 50 percent of the pure-play foundry market and a higher percentage at the leading edge. About 20 percent of its revenue came from mainland China in 2020.
It may be possible for TSMC and others to provide some of the data in aggregated form and still satisfy the US. But there is concern in China that the US will use the data to target other Chinese equipment makers that rely on imported silicon.
The atmosphere across the Taiwan Strait is already feverish and the People’s Republic of China may feel the pressure being exerted over semiconductors justifies an acceleration of plans to invade Taiwan. The People’s Republic of China insists that Taiwan is a renegade state within the country of China and that has the right to occupy, at a time of its own choosing (see IC industry driving possible China takeover of Taiwan). However, the US stands as a guarantor of the independence of Taiwan. Any such move by China would be extremely dangerous and would likely collapse the global economy.
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