Former Trump official claims the US would destroy TSMC plants were China to invade Taiwan

Daniel Sims

Posts: 1,364   +43
Staff
Why it matters: The idea that the US would destroy Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing facilities to keep them out of China's hands in the event of an invasion has resurfaced. The very mention of such a drastic measure highlights the volatility of tensions surrounding the three countries, but TSMC thinks its factories could be neutralized much less violently.

Former US National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien told Semafor this week that the US and its allies would destroy TSMC's manufacturing capacity in Taiwan if they failed to prevent China from invading and taking over the self-ruled island. O'Brien warned that letting China take control of the facilities would give it too much power, but TSMC disagrees.

TSMC is easily the world's largest maker of the semiconductors that power most computerized devices today. As such, its fate and the subsequent effects on the global economy are a primary issue of concern regarding tensions between China, Taiwan, and the US. China considers Taiwan a breakaway province that it wishes to reunite with the mainland.

O'Brian said that control over TSMC would turn China into the OPEC of silicon chips, referring to the multistate organization that controls a significant portion of global oil production. O'Brian thinks China would control the world economy if it successfully invaded Taiwan and seized TSMC, and that the US would never let it happen.

The former Trump administration advisor didn't state outright that there was a specific plan to destroy TSMC but admitted he didn't think the company's facilities would survive an invasion. The idea has been floated at least since last year but is far from the US's only option.

The threat to destroy TSMC could be a tactic to dissuade China from invading. Another plan mentioned would be to evacuate TSMC's engineers from Taiwan. Cutting the US off from TSMC's chips would immediately cause a severe recession, and even evacuating the company's personnel could cost the world economy over $1 trillion.

However, all of TSMC's factories aren't in Taiwan – only its most advanced fabs. A Chinese newspaper reacted angrily to the company's plans to build 3nm manufacturing facilities in Arizona, referring to TSMC's home country as "our Taiwan region." The company is also said to be considering building a fab in Dresden, Germany.

Taiwan National Security Bureau director-general Chen Ming-Tong said last year that the US or its allies wouldn't need to destroy TSMC's facilities to keep them out of mainland China's hands. The factories rely on resources from the global economy, like ASML's lithography equipment, and withholding them from a Chinese-controlled TSMC would make the fabs useless. "Even if China got a hold of the golden hen, it won't be able to lay golden eggs," Chen said.

Permalink to story.

 
China didn't care about Taiwan until it became the semiconductor capital of the world. And, yes that would be the logical move. This is why we're building chip plants in the US so that we can stop worrying about protecting Taiwan like we use to have to protect the middle east to secure oil reserves. In order to keep the US Dollar as the world reserve currency it needs to pivot from the Petro-Dollar to the Silicon-Dollar. Building chip plants around the center of the US is probably the most secure place in the world to build them.

If the US could guarantee the security of the chip supply it would become the world leader in chip manufacturing. These plants are worth hundred of billions of dollars and investors want to know that that money is safe when they build them. Taiwan is no that much bigger than New Jersey, it would be trivial for a world power like China to steam roll it.

I know that there are several Fabs being built around the US, the only one that we know is going to be operational within the next 5 years is the TSMC plant in Arizona. I'm actually going down there for a few months in August. Samsung and Intel both plan projects but as far as I'm aware, none of them have actually started yet. I believe Intel is still arguing with the US about subsidies over their Ohio plant. Samsung talked about building a plant in Ohio but now I think they're looking at sites in Texas. I'll know more later this year as it comes time to go see the TSMC plant in Arizona.

And just to put into perspective the scale of these projects, The International building trades unions are bringing tens of thousands of people from all over the US to work on these. If Arizona stopped everything they were doing and everyone qualified in the state went to work on the TSMC project they still wouldn't have enough people. It's absolutely mind boggling
 
It still amazes me that instead of just buying up all of China's rare earth resources, the ultra-capitalists moved their entire high-tech manufacturing infrastructure to second world countries. They handed all their designs, tools and expertise to developing nations and thought the west would just reap the benefits forever. Did they learn nothing from the imperialists of the past?
 
It still amazes me that instead of just buying up all of China's rare earth resources, the ultra-capitalists moved their entire high-tech manufacturing infrastructure to second world countries. They handed all their designs, tools and expertise to developing nations and thought the west would just reap the benefits forever. Did they learn nothing from the imperialists of the past?
Pursuit of the almighty dollar. :rolleyes: There's nothing more addictive, futile, or self-defeating.

Given the fact that they still produce their crap in China and elsewhere, I think the answer to your question is that they have not even begun to learn the lesson.

For their next trick, the ultra-capitalists will pursue genetically modifying geese to lay golden eggs. 🤣
 
China didn't care about Taiwan until it became the semiconductor capital of the world. And, yes that would be the logical move. This is why we're building chip plants in the US so that we can stop worrying about protecting Taiwan like we use to have to protect the middle east to secure oil reserves. In order to keep the US Dollar as the world reserve currency it needs to pivot from the Petro-Dollar to the Silicon-Dollar. Building chip plants around the center of the US is probably the most secure place in the world to build them.

If the US could guarantee the security of the chip supply it would become the world leader in chip manufacturing. These plants are worth hundred of billions of dollars and investors want to know that that money is safe when they build them. Taiwan is no that much bigger than New Jersey, it would be trivial for a world power like China to steam roll it.

I know that there are several Fabs being built around the US, the only one that we know is going to be operational within the next 5 years is the TSMC plant in Arizona. I'm actually going down there for a few months in August. Samsung and Intel both plan projects but as far as I'm aware, none of them have actually started yet. I believe Intel is still arguing with the US about subsidies over their Ohio plant. Samsung talked about building a plant in Ohio but now I think they're looking at sites in Texas. I'll know more later this year as it comes time to go see the TSMC plant in Arizona.

And just to put into perspective the scale of these projects, The International building trades unions are bringing tens of thousands of people from all over the US to work on these. If Arizona stopped everything they were doing and everyone qualified in the state went to work on the TSMC project they still wouldn't have enough people. It's absolutely mind boggling
First statement is totally false. China always cared about Taiwan, just as it cared about Hong Kong. The thing is it`s only now that they have a strategic opportunity to take it.
 
China didn't care about Taiwan until it became the semiconductor capital of the world. And, yes that would be the logical move. This is why we're building chip plants in the US so that we can stop worrying about protecting Taiwan like we use to have to protect the middle east to secure oil reserves. In order to keep the US Dollar as the world reserve currency it needs to pivot from the Petro-Dollar to the Silicon-Dollar. Building chip plants around the center of the US is probably the most secure place in the world to build them.

If the US could guarantee the security of the chip supply it would become the world leader in chip manufacturing. These plants are worth hundred of billions of dollars and investors want to know that that money is safe when they build them. Taiwan is no that much bigger than New Jersey, it would be trivial for a world power like China to steam roll it.

I know that there are several Fabs being built around the US, the only one that we know is going to be operational within the next 5 years is the TSMC plant in Arizona. I'm actually going down there for a few months in August. Samsung and Intel both plan projects but as far as I'm aware, none of them have actually started yet. I believe Intel is still arguing with the US about subsidies over their Ohio plant. Samsung talked about building a plant in Ohio but now I think they're looking at sites in Texas. I'll know more later this year as it comes time to go see the TSMC plant in Arizona.

And just to put into perspective the scale of these projects, The International building trades unions are bringing tens of thousands of people from all over the US to work on these. If Arizona stopped everything they were doing and everyone qualified in the state went to work on the TSMC project they still wouldn't have enough people. It's absolutely mind boggling

US cannot produce enough chip grade silicon .. this is doomed to fail. We also need absurd amounts of NEON gas for chip production we cannot produce in enough quantities either.

And even if we could ... the human labor $$ costs to extract said materials in the US to fully manufacture ONLY in the US without super cheap foreign materials or components would make a finished Iphone or Samsung 22 cost 2 or 3x as much.

This whole chips nonsense is a boondoggle...
 
US cannot produce enough chip grade silicon .. this is doomed to fail. We also need absurd amounts of NEON gas for chip production we cannot produce in enough quantities either.

And even if we could ... the human labor $$ costs to extract said materials in the US to fully manufacture ONLY in the US without super cheap foreign materials or components would make a finished Iphone or Samsung 22 cost 2 or 3x as much.

This whole chips nonsense is a boondoggle...

Which is why production of key components/materials should be heavily subsidized to keep costs under control. And why the US needs to start competing with China in South America/Africa to gain control of the areas where resources are mined.

Regardless, this is one area why I agree: If China takes Taiwan, TSMC has to be levelled beyond any ability to reclaim any of its technology. Same applies to Samsung in South Korea.
 
First statement is totally false. China always cared about Taiwan, just as it cared about Hong Kong. The thing is it`s only now that they have a strategic opportunity to take it.
China is risking WW3 over Taiwan, that very idea would have been met with laughter 10 years ago. I hate to say this, but the only way to avoid WW3 is to move semiconductor manufacturing outside of Taiwan before China decides to invade. As someone who literally builds these types of facilities you do not understand the sense of urgency there is in the industry to get these things built as fast as possible. There is a real concern with the 'build back better' bill that we do not have the number of skilled laborers to do all the work at any price. Out of my union hall in Pennsylvania we have about 40 retiring every year and we only have 14 apprentices totaling all 4 years of the program. There are less than 4 people joining every years for every 40 that are leaving.

US cannot produce enough chip grade silicon .. it is doom to fail. We also need absurd amounts of NEON gas for chip production we cannot produce in enough quantities either.

And even if we could ... the $$ costs to full manufacture in the US with out super cheap foreign materials or components would make a finished Iphone or Samsung 22 cost 2 or 3x as much.

This whole chips nonsense is a boondoggle...
I fail to see how the whole chips nonsense is a "boondoggle". We aren't talking GPUs, we're talking about microchips that are in everything from the switch in your hair dryer to door locks on your car. We already saw what happened to car manufacturing with the initial chip shortage, that could get a whole lot worse. Since we live into a 'race to the bottom' economy run by bean counters, those cheap appliances we buy are going to break and we wont be able to get new air fryers during the next chip shortage.

And as far as resources go, there is no reason why we can't refine silicon in the US we just need to build the infrastructure for it. Moving to resources, we'll just exploit some developing nations economy to get what we want like we always do
 
China is risking WW3 over Taiwan, that very idea would have been met with laughter 10 years ago. I hate to say this, but the only way to avoid WW3 is to move semiconductor manufacturing outside of Taiwan before China decides to invade. As someone who literally builds these types of facilities you do not understand the sense of urgency there is in the industry to get these things built as fast as possible. There is a real concern with the 'build back better' bill that we do not have the number of skilled laborers to do all the work at any price. Out of my union hall in Pennsylvania we have about 40 retiring every year and we only have 14 apprentices totaling all 4 years of the program. There are less than 4 people joining every years for every 40 that are leaving.


I fail to see how the whole chips nonsense is a "boondoggle". We aren't talking GPUs, we're talking about microchips that are in everything from the switch in your hair dryer to door locks on your car. We already saw what happened to car manufacturing with the initial chip shortage, that could get a whole lot worse. Since we live into a 'race to the bottom' economy run by bean counters, those cheap appliances we buy are going to break and we wont be able to get new air fryers during the next chip shortage.

And as far as resources go, there is no reason why we can't refine silicon in the US we just need to build the infrastructure for it. Moving to resources, we'll just exploit some developing nations economy to get what we want like we always do
Sry, still wrong. One China policy has been there forever. Maybe read about China's civil war and how commies got to power. Taiwan is paramount to them and always has been. They just never had the ability to swarm it or a favourable strategic context. They didn't wake up ten years ago because of semiconductors. You could only say, Taiwan is a bigger deal now, but so is the risk.
 
Sry, still wrong. One China policy has been there forever. Maybe read about China's civil war and how commies got to power. Taiwan is paramount to them and always has been. They just never had the ability to swarm it or a favourable strategic context. They didn't wake up ten years ago because of semiconductors. You could only say, Taiwan is a bigger deal now, but so is the risk.
Taiwan is not part of China, neither is Tibet or Uyghur. China has a history going back many thousands of years of different people pillaging it and taking it over. When we think of Chinese culture we think of the "Han" Chinese, but if you look all over their "country" you see differenct cultures and religions. If you want to look at Uyghur, or Xinjiang as the CCP likes to call it, they have middle eastern architecture, speak a Turkish based language and are genetically different from the Han Chinese. China has been ruled by different dynasties all throughout history but there has never been "One China." The Ming dynasty wasn't even "Chinese", they were of Mongolian decent and used mongol armies to enforce their claim on "China".

Different Dynasties used different armies to enforce their rules until another army came along. Finally we had Mao who was heavily influenced by Lenin. He created the "CCP" but Mao CCP is completely different from the modern CCP. Keep in mind, I'm not saying either version of the CCP is good.

The only territory of China's that they might have any right to claim is theirs is Mongolia and that's simply because they've been invaded and conquered by them several times over the last few thousand years
 
Seems like Taiwan is going to get effed either way somehow in the future, either china gets it hands on it or the U.S. puts a hammer to it so no one gets an upper hand.

Even if we(the U.S.) get our fabs up and running, do we even have enough labor to crank the chips out? the reason everything got sent to these risky *** countries is because the labor is so cheap. people here wont flip a hamburger now for cheap, no way in the hell they'll work cheap for these chips either when everyone knows how important they are. big diff between a hamburger and a ryzen but you get the point, someone is gonna pay up.

shoot, the cost may be the single reason how china can keep up in the end even if theyre kept away from all the cool kids tools, they have a ****load of cheap labor.
 
Which is why production of key components/materials should be heavily subsidized to keep costs under control.
So, the US taxpayers should hand over MORE money to the billionaires? Right, because that has worked soooo well in the past, eh? :laughing:
And why the US needs to start competing with China in South America/Africa to gain control of the areas where resources are mined.
That'll be too little too late.
Regardless, this is one area why I agree: If China takes Taiwan, TSMC has to be levelled beyond any ability to reclaim any of its technology. Same applies to Samsung in South Korea.
The question is, do Taiwan and Korea agree with this? These are, after all, THEIR countries and the Taiwan National Security Bureau director-general Chen Ming-Tong doesn't seem to agree.
 
Last edited:
Seems like Taiwan is going to get effed either way somehow in the future, either china gets it hands on it or the U.S. puts a hammer to it so no one gets an upper hand.

Even if we(the U.S.) get our fabs up and running, do we even have enough labor to crank the chips out? the reason everything got sent to these risky *** countries is because the labor is so cheap. people here wont flip a hamburger now for cheap, no way in the hell they'll work cheap for these chips either when everyone knows how important they are. big diff between a hamburger and a ryzen but you get the point, someone is gonna pay up.

shoot, the cost may be the single reason how china can keep up in the end even if theyre kept away from all the cool kids tools, they have a ****load of cheap labor.
The cost of labour isn't necessarily the issue. The issue is the amount that those at the top feel entitled to skimming off. If another country was to take control of TSMC it would have to be nationalised. Being a state-owned corporation would make it a lot more feasible than having fat cat parasites at the top sucking resources out of it.
 
Taiwan is not part of China, neither is Tibet or Uyghur. China has a history going back many thousands of years of different people pillaging it and taking it over. When we think of Chinese culture we think of the "Han" Chinese, but if you look all over their "country" you see differenct cultures and religions. If you want to look at Uyghur, or Xinjiang as the CCP likes to call it, they have middle eastern architecture, speak a Turkish based language and are genetically different from the Han Chinese. China has been ruled by different dynasties all throughout history but there has never been "One China." The Ming dynasty wasn't even "Chinese", they were of Mongolian decent and used mongol armies to enforce their claim on "China".

Different Dynasties used different armies to enforce their rules until another army came along. Finally we had Mao who was heavily influenced by Lenin. He created the "CCP" but Mao CCP is completely different from the modern CCP. Keep in mind, I'm not saying either version of the CCP is good.

The only territory of China's that they might have any right to claim is theirs is Mongolia and that's simply because they've been invaded and conquered by them several times over the last few thousand years

That's not entirely correct. Taiwan has been under Chinese rule since the early 1600's. The present Taiwanese population is primarily Chinese stock. They separated for political reasons, not ethnic reasons. Of course, that doesn't mean mainland China has any moral right to take over Taiwan.
 
Seems like Taiwan is going to get effed either way somehow in the future, either china gets it hands on it or the U.S. puts a hammer to it so no one gets an upper hand.

Even if we(the U.S.) get our fabs up and running, do we even have enough labor to crank the chips out? the reason everything got sent to these risky *** countries is because the labor is so cheap. people here wont flip a hamburger now for cheap, no way in the hell they'll work cheap for these chips either when everyone knows how important they are. big diff between a hamburger and a ryzen but you get the point, someone is gonna pay up.

shoot, the cost may be the single reason how china can keep up in the end even if theyre kept away from all the cool kids tools, they have a ****load of cheap labor.

The industrial power of the US was based in its founding stock: Germanic peoples. US leadership has been systematically destroying that base, and it will never recover.
 
That's not entirely correct. Taiwan has been under Chinese rule since the early 1600's. The present Taiwanese population is primarily Chinese stock. They separated for political reasons, not ethnic reasons. Of course, that doesn't mean mainland China has any moral right to take over Taiwan.
Taiwan may be primarily Han Chinese decent but it in the 1600's it was colonized by the dutch, was switched around between the Spanish, French and Japanese until Mao tried to claim Taiwan as his after WW2. Taiwan has not been part of China for hundreds of years and if you look at the different dynasties that "ruled" China, it was of very little interest to them. It's far away enough from the main land that people couldn't just swim to it. Many of the armies who swept across China to conquer it were mostly a cavlery type of army. Before the age of sail it would not be logistically possible to "rule" Taiwan which is probably why the Dutch were able to claim it so easily. It wasn't valuable unless you had ships.

Taiwan has never really been part of China. China taking over Taiwan would be no different than Russia trying to take over the Ukraine because it use to be part of the USSR. Heck, Russia has more of a claim to the Ukraine than China does to Taiwan.
 
As soon as the US has enough semiconductor production outside of taiwan, its only interest in the island will be as a thrown weapon against china, to wear it down and weaken it, just as it has used and is using ukraine against russia.
And of course, this includes denying them the technology deployed on the island, even if they has to destroy it..
Some politicians and industrialists on the island seem to have noticed, they have read the history, context and current world situation, and they have read between the lines the fine print of the CHIPS law.
 
Last edited:
If you look at the wider picture, the fact that US is trying to extend their control over who these fabs can sell chips to, is itself unfair to the fabs. With chip demand plunging and the increased sanctions certainly don't help these fabs. So it is clear they are never bothered about about TSMC or Samsung. For now, yes because they are reliant on these fabs for critical chips, which is also why they are in a hurry to onshore these chip production. In any case, I won't be surprised if they won't hesitate to destroy these fabs at any given opportunity.
 
Very recent history has proven us that whatever whoever does, will lead us to more chaos. This is called sabotage.
 
I take this story with lashing of salt - TSMC is not for the USA to destroy- they may with TSMC remove all critical parts to The USA .
China will not invade Taiwan - unlike Russia who thinks it does not need other countries.
China needs to west to keep it's people in check with jobs and consumerism.

Russia lost 100s of Billions of foreign reserves - China's Trillions would be wiped out .
China would be kicked out of Africa, Middle east etc

How is China even going to win - The amount of ships and men it would need is too stupid to calculate .
What's it going to do with bombers - Kill the taiwan parliament , kill Taiwanese - yes I know there are military targets

It's a stupid idea - they are not that stupid

This is not Hawaii - just put a gunship in the harbour and the King will say yes
USA lost in Vietnam
Russia in Ukraine and Afghanistan

China would have to start killing in Hong Kong uprising

China is not invading Taiwan for TSMC - it has a 20 year plan to beat TSMC at home.- it wants to leapfrog in other tech

Unlike Russian Chinese people actually make things - with war what will those factories make ? weapons
All western companies will have to put out and stop doing business with China.
How long with they hold power - Chinese people can get real angry at their government - they have more balls than weak easily controlled Russians.

Logistics for such a war in mind boggling - troop ships sitting ducks - no airports to land at - as all destroyed or controlled
You would need a massive build up of ships - ain't happening
 
It's probably best to preemptively bomb those factories now.
Just in case the Chinese attack over night.

(I see I need to clarify: it was a joke)
 
Last edited:
So, the US taxpayers should hand over MORE money to the billionaires? Right, because that has worked soooo well in the past, eh? :laughing:
Direct investments work; historically, the US is at its best when it throws money at problems (WW2, the Manhattan Project, the IHS, Apollo, and so on).

That's why the US is lagging behind much of the world; China, Taiwan, and South Korea are willing to throw hundreds of billions to grow their industries. Meanwhile, we throw 10 billion and call it a day.
 
Direct investments work; historically, the US is at its best when it throws money at problems (WW2, the Manhattan Project, the IHS, Apollo, and so on).

That's why the US is lagging behind much of the world; China, Taiwan, and South Korea are willing to throw hundreds of billions to grow their industries. Meanwhile, we throw 10 billion and call it a day.
And yet, the USA is still one of, if not the, most socially-backwards countries in all of NATO despite being the wealthiest country overall in human history.

How did they get there? By concentrating the wealth in the top 0.1% of the population. This idea would only make things worse, just like it always did in the past.
 
It's probably best to preemptively bomb those factories now.
Just in case the Chinese attack over night.

That's why you only have 1 tire - need to take out the foundries in Korea, ASML in Netherlands , Ball bearing and high tech industries in the EU , Switzerland ,Sweden( historical basis is using the Mongols as proxies ) and lets not forget Japan a target of China for centuries - now USA controls the divine winds of war.

Only with industry in the USA will we have Pax Americana
 
Back