TSMC founder discusses IC cooperation with Japan PM at APEC summit
San Francisco, Nov. 17 (CNA) Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) founder Morris Chang (張忠謀), who is representing Taiwan at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, met Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday to discuss forming a closer semiconductor partnership.
In their meeting, held on the sidelines of the Nov. 16-17 APEC summit, Chang and Kishida agreed that further cooperation would help cement the strong relationship between the two sides, according to Taiwan's delegation to the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting.
TSMC is currently building a wafer fab in Kumamoto, southern Japan, as part of a joint venture with several Japanese partners, with commercial production employing the 12 nanometer, 16nm and 28nm processes set to begin in 2024.
In March 2021, TSMC also set up the TSMC Japan 3DIC R&D Center, a subsidiary located in the Tsukuba Center of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology to develop high-end integrated circuit packaging and testing services and provide one-stop services to clients.
The Japanese R&D center inaugurated a clean room facility in June 2022. TSMC is also studying the possibility of building a second wafer fab in Kumamoto.
In addition to discussing economic cooperation with Chang, Kishida voiced his support for Taiwan's participation in international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the International Civil Aviation Organization, Taiwan's delegation said.
Kishida also encouraged Japan and Taiwan to make joint contributions to the international community through the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, which aims to bring together experts from across the world to facilitate knowledge exchange.
The Japanese prime minister reiterated Japan's stance on maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and Chang expressed gratitude to Kishida for his emphasis on the matter.
Also Friday, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) posted a photo on Facebook of him and Chang chatting and having tea on the sidelines of the summit.
Lee said on Facebook that he and Chang had met in 2022 at the previous APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in Bangkok and had got to know each other.
"As individual economies, we each have our unique strengths and challenges, as well as different interests and circumstances," Lee said in his Facebook post. "Multilateral platforms like APEC - Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation remind us that by communicating and working together, we not only can find common ground, but also derive joint benefits, solve problems, and move forward."
In a news conference, Chang said he had held private conversations with more than half of the world leaders (out of a total of 21) present at APEC.
Chang said he and U.S. President Joe Biden only greeted each other and did not hold formal meetings. Chang, however, met with Biden's deputy, Vice President Kamala Harris, on Thursday, to discuss the economic partnership between the two sides.
Chang, who represented President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) at the APEC summit, said the conversations with APEC leaders largely focused on peaceful development in the region, the resilience of the global supply chains and the semiconductor industry.
Chang told the press that he did not speak with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), and both did not have any interaction.
However, Chang said the meeting between Biden and Xi on Wednesday, the first between the two leaders since November 2022, is expected to reduce tensions between the two powers, which could help stabilize the situation in the Taiwan Strait.
Chang said many APEC leaders wanted to hear about Taiwan's experiences regarding semiconductor development.
In addition to in Kumamoto, TSMC is spending US$40 billion to build two advanced wafer fabs in the U.S. state of Arizona: one expected to begin mass commercial production in 2025, using the advanced 4nm process, a year behind schedule due to a lack of skilled construction workers. The other is expected to begin mass commercial production in 2026, using the 3nm process, the latest technology that the Taiwanese chipmaker began using in mass production at the end of 2022.
Despite TSMC's investments in Arizona, Chang said it is impossible in a short term that the U.S. will have a semiconductor company with production capacity that can rival Taiwan.
Citing the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science Act (CHIPS Act), Chang said the investments by the U.S. government under the Act are relatively small compared to the US$30 billion spent annually by TSMC on production expansion and technology upgrades.
According to the Act, the U.S. government will inject US$52.7 billion into the American semiconductor industry to shore up its manufacturing and R&D strength. That includes US$39 billion in subsidies to help companies build new facilities and expand operations in the United States, including TSMC.
On the last day of the APEC summit, Chang and his wife, TSMC Charity Foundation Chairperson Sophie Chang (張淑芬), held a banquet to express gratitude for their warm reception at APEC, with several political and semiconductor heavyweights showing up.
The guests included former U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who visited Taiwan in August 2022. Pelosi's brief visit angered Beijing, and it launched massive military exercises around Taiwan after her departure.
In addition to Pelosi, Taiwan-born U.S. House Representative Ted Lieu (劉雲平) also attended Chang's dinner.
Among the visiting American business tycoons were AI chip designer Nvidia Corp. CEO Jensen Huang (黃仁勳) and server and storage supplier Supermicro CEO Charles Liang (梁見後).
The 92-year-old Chang has served as Taiwan's APEC envoy seven times. He first attended the annual APEC event in that role in 2006, during the administration of then-President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
Taiwan joined APEC in 1991 under the name "Chinese Taipei," but its presidents have been blocked by China from attending the APEC leaders' summit.
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