These news concern a company little known to the general public: the Taiwanese TSMC, which it is the best manufacturer in the world of advanced microchips. Now, we are used to thinking of microchips as the “brains” of computers and mobile phones, but in reality microchips are strategic for infinite other reasons: they are found in ballistic missiles, in war jets, in submarines. Controlling microchips is strategic, and this worries Americans a lot, because there are only three places in the world that currently have the capacity to produce the highest level chips: America itself with Intel, which however produces mainly for servers and computers. , South Korea with Samsung and Taiwan with Tsmc (China is advancing in the sector, but still is not able to produce the highest level microchips). Just look at the map to understand the problem: Tsmc and Samsung, which produce the strategic microchips, are located in the backyard of China, and this in case of conflict would become a devastating weakness. So this week the Trump administration made two moves: first it banned Huawei, the Chinese tech giant, from using American-designed microchips. Secondly, he announced that Tsmc, the Taiwanese company, will open a high-level microchip factory in Arizona. The intention is clear: to put strategic technological production away from Chinese missiles in case of conflict. This also means that American strategists believe that technology warfare can lead to something more serious.
And so in these days at the two sessions there will be a lot of talk about technology and Taiwan, the independent island that Beijing considers to be its property and which yesterday installed Tsai Ing-wen for a second presidential term, opposed to integration with China and near Washington. Taiwan, with its high-level technological production, is squeezed between the two giants, and in recent days on many unofficial Chinese blogs and social media it has been said that Beijing could even invade the island to take control of Tsmc, much the production of microchips is strategic. The analyst Bill Bishop, in his Sinocism newsletter, wrote that the possibility “seems crazy, but these are crazy times”.