Taiwan touts ‘democracy chips’ in meeting with US state governor

Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen told governor Eric Holcomb the island was willing to build supply chains for "democracy chips". PHOTO: AFP/ TAIWAN’S PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE

TAIPEI (REUTERS, AFP) - Taiwan wants to ensure its partners have reliable supplies of semiconductors, or “democracy chips”, President Tsai Ing-wen told the governor of the US state of Indiana on Monday (Aug 22), saying that China’s threats mean fellow democracies have to cooperate.  

Governor Eric Holcomb is making the third visit this month by a US delegation after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a brief trip, infuriating China, which views Taiwan as a renegade province to be reunified, by force if necessary. 

A week after Mrs Pelosi’s visit, five US lawmakers, led by Senator Ed Markey, visited Taiwan.  

China staged extensive military exercises near Taiwan after Mrs Pelosi’s visit. Taiwan rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims, saying only the island’s people can decide their future

"Taiwan has been confronted by military threats from China, in and around the Taiwan Strait," Ms Tsai told Mr Holcomb during the meeting at her office in Taipei.

"At this moment, democratic allies must stand together and boost cooperation across all areas," she added, in remarks carried live on her social media pages.

China’s Foreign Ministry said it had lodged “solemn representations” with the US about Mr Holcomb’s trip and urged the US to abide by the "one China" policy.

“The Chinese side has always firmly opposed the US official exchanges with Taiwan in any form and under any name," it said in a statement.

Mr Holcomb is due to meet representatives of Taiwan’s semiconductor companies on his visit amid an expansion of links between his state and the island, which is home to the world’s largest contact chip maker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC).

"Economic security is an important pillar of national and regional security," Ms Tsai said. "Taiwan is willing and able to strengthen cooperation with democratic partners in building sustainable supply chains for democracy chips."

Mr Holcomb talked of the efforts his state is making in supporting the tech industry, pointing to a June announcement by Taiwan’s MediaTek, the world’s fourth largest chip designer by revenue, of a new design centre in Indiana in partnership with Purdue University.  

“We look so forward to working with them in designing the future,” he said.  

Speaking to reporters later, Mr Holcomb said Taiwan offered some of the best high-technology talent in the world.  

“We’re facing and specifically seeking to turn supply chain pains into supply chain gains. I think the way we get there faster, in a more resilient fashion, is by doing it together,” he said.  

Mr Holcomb oversaw the signing of a cooperation agreement between Purdue and Taiwanese electronics contract manufacturer Wistron, with company chairman Simon Lin mentioning opportunities to collaborate on areas such as cybersecurity and smart factories. 

Taiwan has been keen to show the United States, its most important international backer, that it is a reliable friend as a global chip crunch impacts auto production and consumer electronics.  

Ms Tsai said Indiana stood to become a centre for chip technology following this month’s signing into law of a US act to subsidise the domestic semiconductor industry as it competes with Chinese and other foreign manufacturers.  

TSMC is building a US$12 billion (S$16.72 billion) plant in the US state of Arizona. 

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