TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A high-level Chinese economist has called on Beijing to seize Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) if Washington levies economic sanctions against China.
According to Bloomberg, Chen Wenling (陳文玲), chief economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, made the remarks during a talk in May at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University. The speech was posted online Tuesday (June 7) by pro-China news site Guancha.
Chen’s research group is overseen by Beijing’s top economic planning agency, the National Development and Reform Commission, the report said.
“If the U.S. and the West impose destructive sanctions on China like sanctions against Russia, we must recover Taiwan,” Chen said. “Especially in the reconstruction of the industrial chain and supply chain, we must seize TSMC.”
“They are speeding up the transfer to the U.S. to build six factories there,” the economist added. “We must not let all the goals of the transfer be achieved.”
TSMC is currently building a US$12 billion (NT$354 billion) fab in Phoenix, Arizona, to produce 5-nanometer chips. While some media have speculated that TSMC plans to build up to six chip plants at the Phoenix location, the Taiwanese chipmaker has so far only announced the one 5nm facility.
Chen’s comments reflect Beijing’s intense desire to develop its own semiconductor industry, which currently can only produce less advanced chips, and still heavily relies on Western companies for chipmaking equipment and countries like Taiwan for cutting-edge semiconductors. TSMC is the world’s largest contract chipmaker and is responsible for more than 50% of the global foundry sector.
The report pointed out that it is unclear how Chen’s scenario would unfold as harsh Western economic sanctions were only applied after Russia invaded Ukraine in February. However, China has repeatedly threatened to take over Taiwan by force and continues to ramp up military aggression toward Taipei.