World needs Taiwan's 'Silicon Shield' chip industry: TSMC chairman

05/03/2021 01:41 PM
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CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, May 3 (CNA) The chip industry in Taiwan has been called "the Silicon Shield" because the world needs the nation's high-tech industry, the chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.(TSMC) said during a recent interview with an American TV show.

During an interview with CBS television network's "60 Minutes," Mark Liu (劉德音), chairman of the world's largest contract chipmaker, told the host that as a critical link in the global semiconductor supply chain, Taiwan's chip industry is dubbed the "Silicon Shield" for a reason.

"That means the world all needs Taiwan's high-tech industry support. So they will not let the war happen in this region because it goes against interest of every country in the world," he said.

Liu, however, would not comment if the chip industry is indeed keeping Taiwan safe as argued by some foreign experts who have said TSMC and other Taiwanese chip manufacturers are one of the reasons the West needs to help defend the country in the event of conflict with China.

"I cannot comment on the safety. I mean, this is a changing world. Nobody wants these things to happen. And I hope -- I hope not too -- either," he told the host.

Meanwhile, asked about U.S. concerns that most chips are made in Asia amid the ongoing global shortage of automobile chips, Liu said he understands such worries but stressed that the main issue is not where the chips are being made.

"The shortage will happen no matter where the production is located because it's due to COVID," he said, referring to the pandemic.

Asked about U.S. attempts to re-balance the supply chain, Liu, whose company is Apple's chief supplier, said instead of trying to move the supply chain, which is "very costly" and "really non productive," the U.S. should invest more in long-term chip R&D by producing more Ph.D., masters and bachelors degree students in the manufacturing field.

According to "60 Minutes," 75 percent of semiconductor manufacturing is currently in Asia.

Referencing the ongoing auto chip shortage, Liu said during the interview that TSMC expects to meet the minimum requirements of its customers before the end of June.

However, that does not mean the shortage in chips for cars will end in two months, he said, as the supply chain is long and complex and that will take about seven to eight months, according to Liu.

The interview was broadcast in U.S. on May 2.

(By Chang Chien-chung and Joseph Yeh)

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