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Saving Taiwan: An Industrial Approach

The More the US is present in Taiwan, the lower the chance for Chinese Intervention

4 mins read
Taiwan Semi is located in Science Park Number 2 in northern Taiwan, known as Hsinchu Park

The idea behind the podcast was a simple one. The US has strategic interests in Taiwan, in part because of its geopolitical location in the center of the First Island Chain, in part because it is a bulwark against a potentially expansionist China, a country with multiple territorial claims over many islands in the region belonging to other countries such as Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and others; in part because China has already illegally grabbed territory in the South China Sea; and in part because Taiwan is important economically.

How, then to defend the island and, better yet, deter any attack? My view is the best way to do this is to plant the American flag as firmly as we can on the island.

A straightforward way to do this is to encourage high tech American companies to locate in Taiwan and partner with high tech Taiwanese companies wherever possible.

The idea is that China would have to pause before ramping up any attack that would directly threaten US assets in the country.

Just as in the past US companies flocked to China, only now realizing that China has turned inhospitable to US industry and US industry is looking for other places to be, Taiwan is an ideal choice. It has the technological know-how, vital to the future of the US economy and US national security, it is extremely friendly and open to Americans, and we can benefit while helping Taiwan.

Saving Taiwan: US Investment Needed

The More the US is invested industrially on Taiwan, the Less Likely China Will Attack the Island

Today’s podcast is focused on Taiwan. Will the United States come to Taiwan’s aide in case it is attacked by China?

The risk of a Chinese attack can be significantly reduced if the US has a significant industrial presence in Taiwan.

The US is not directly obliged by any treaty or law to support Taiwan if it is attacked.

Some claim that the Taiwan Relations Act supports the idea that the United States is obliged to support Taiwan if it is under attack, but that claim is only partly supported by the Act.  What the Act does say is that the United States will support Taiwan with armaments.  By extension many suppose that obligation includes active defense by the United States, but the Act does not say that and it is up to US policy makers to decide how and when to act, if at all, in case of an attack by China.

Other countries, most notably Japan, have said that if China attacks Taiwan than Japan regards that as an attack on Japan. That ought to trigger a military response by Japan, but that is not so clear, nor is any clear idea of what form such a response might take, if there is one.

Officially the United States has adhered to a policy of what Washington calls “strategic ambiguity.”  As a policy strategic ambiguity is an excuse for Washington to pretend it neither supports or does not support Taiwan. 

China today is concerned that the US is really supporting, sub rosa, Taiwan Independence, something the Chinese say violates the understandings it has with the United States.  The Chinese point to arms sales by the US to Taiwan, and also to US freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea and Taiwan straits. China also is concerned about the buildup of US airpower as far away as Guam, particularly the introduction of the F-22 stealth fighter and the B-2 stealth bomber.  China also sees the forthcoming Camp David Meeting with Korea, Japan and the United States as part of US attempts to constrain China and enhance regional defenses against it.

President Biden has said that if China attacks Taiwan, the US will defend the island.  But the White House “walked back” his remarks and claimed that nothing has changed in US policy.

Clearly the US, in case of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, will have to quickly –in fact- very quickly, make a decision to intervene.  If the US does not act right away, then a belated entry won’t save Taiwan from Chinese attack, and may not be adequate to save the island.

US support for Taiwan is based on maintaining regional security and on the pollical, economic and strategic importance of Taiwan.

Beyond the broader picture of the US wanting to protect against Chinese expansion and threats to allies such as Japan, there is the question of Taiwan’s strategic importance.

The Jewel in Taiwan’s Strategic Crown is the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, TSMC or Taiwan Semi. Today, Taiwan Semi is the key to the realization of new technology vital to American national security, particularly specialized artificial intelligence integrated circuits.  These chips will power the US economy in future, and will wind up in American weapons, both new and upgraded older platforms.

China understands its vulnerability as well but has less prospect in the immediate future of breaking out and producing its own AI products.  It is trying to do so, and throwing resources at the problem, but it faces significant engineering and manufacturing challenges and a US embargo on very high-end manufacturing equipment.

Taiwan Semi is building two foundries in Arizona, but these will depend completely on Taiwan Semi know how and long term support. It is also unlikely that the top top Taiwan Semi technology will make it to the United States.

Understanding the importance of Taiwan Semi, it would make sense for the US to step up partnerships with the company in Taiwan, physically as close to Taiwan Semi as feasible.

Taiwan Semi is located in Science Park Number 2 in northern Taiwan, known as Hsinchu Park #2. 

The US needs to urgently invest in manufacturing in Taiwan and create a strategic economic and political presence.

It is one thing for China to think about invading Taiwan, it is another if a Chinese attack would be a direct attack on American assets.  It would be a game changer for the US to up its manufacturing and scientific presence in Taiwan. 

It is a truism that business follows the flag.  If the US government encourages open American industrial investment in Taiwan, American companies will take action to invest in Taiwan and enhance partnerships with leading Taiwan companies.

This will discourage China and make it clear that in future if China wants US companies in China then it needs to back off from threats to Taiwan and understand that the US won’t any longer invest there unless China changes its course.

Stephen Bryen

Stephen Bryen is a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense and is a leading expert in security strategy and technology. Bryen writes for Asia Times, American Thinker, Epoch Times, Newsweek, Washington Times, the Jewish Policy Center and others.

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