Hi-tech manufacturing

The ZTE logo and a sign for 5G are seen at the World 5G Exhibition in Beijing, China, 22 November 2019. (Jason Lee/File Photo/Reuters)

US sanctions forcing Chinese firms to switch to made-in-China tech

According to a development plan for China’s software and information technology (IT) service industry from 2021 to 2025, China is expected to significantly expand its capacity for developing key software and build two to three open-source communities with international influence by 2025. Meanwhile, China’s giant state-owned enterprises are also rushing to crank up domestic purchases of innovative IT applications under government pressure.
Attendees ahead of a "First Tool-In" ceremony at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. facility under construction in Phoenix, Arizona, US, on 6 December 2022. (Caitlin O'Hara/Bloomberg)

Will TSMC’s American plant lead to an exodus of semiconductor talents from Taiwan?

TSMC’s new facility in Arizona, US, is set to begin production in 2024, with a second facility underway. The company’s US$40 billion investment is a first in many ways and marks a major shift in the global semiconductor industry. But TSMC has made conservative remarks about the move, and the new plant has also roused much concern from the Taiwanese.
The logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) is pictured at its headquarters, in Hsinchu, Taiwan, 19 January 2021. (Ann Wang/File Photo/Reuters)

Can Taiwan hold on to its lead in chip manufacturing?

Taiwan’s semiconductor industry is booming, but its pole position is at risk. With the industry deemed of national security concern, China, the US and the EU are implementing restrictive measures, upping their investment and aiming for autonomy and self-sufficiency in the sector, which could cause Taiwan to lose its competitive edge.
Semiconductor chips are seen on a circuit board of a computer in this illustration picture taken 25 February 2022. (Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo/Reuters)

Has the US crushed China’s hopes for self-sufficiency in the chip industry?

China’s semiconductor industry has been dealt with multiple hurdles in the past year, with the latest roadblock coming from the US’s ban on chip export to China in October. Manufacturers, executives and technical experts now face the difficult decision of staying in this growing sector in China or in the US. Will China find a way around this new restriction?
Semiconductor chips are seen on a circuit board of a computer in this illustration picture taken 25 February 2022. (Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo/Reuters)

The end of the global chip shortage: Now, chips won't sell

The global semiconductor shortage seems to be over as demand for consumer electronics falls, leaving smartphone manufacturers stuck managing high inventories. However, China’s wafer foundry expansion momentum has not slowed, as part of the country's core objective to develop the sector amid tightened US sanctions.
Signage for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) at the company's headquarters in Hsinchu, Taiwan, on 11 January 2022. (I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg)

Why TSMC will stay rooted in Taiwan despite pressure to set up overseas chip factories

While the US and Japan would like TSMC to "spread the risk" of global tech supply chains being hit in the event of cross-strait tensions, TSMC is quite firm on keeping its advanced technologies in Taiwan while going through the motions of setting up some overseas outposts as recommended by its allies. It is well aware of its strategic value and will want to hold on to its upper hand.
Visitors look at a display of a semiconductor device at Semicon China, a trade fair for semiconductor technology, in Shanghai, China, 17 March 2021. (Aly Song/Reuters)

Chinese tech companies in chipmaking race to be self-reliant

The global chip shortage throughout 2021 prompted many tech companies to rely more on themselves. Coupled with the rise of artificial intelligence, demand for high-capacity chips has increased with tech companies and device makers racing to deliver smarter services and products. But the global semiconductor industry is also getting increasingly crowded, as more and more newcomers seek to gain a foothold in advanced chips to power new technologies.
Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou returns to a court hearing following a lunch break in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 16 August 2021. (Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters)

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou: Politics rather than law may decide her fate

Wang Jiangyu says Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou has reason not to be optimistic about her court case regarding extradition to the US on charges of alleged bank fraud. While the Canadian court has raised some contradictions in the arguments of the US side, political factors may come into play.
This file photo taken on 31 May 2021 shows an employee of the semiconductor manufacturer Bosch working in a clean room during the preparations for the series production of semiconductor chips on innovative 300-millimetre wafers in Dresden, Germany. (Jens Schlueter/AFP)

Why no country can win the chip war

Though the Covid-19 pandemic has had an impact on many industries, annual global semiconductor sales still increased by 10.8% in 2020 to reach US$464 billion. The current global semiconductor supply chain is highly internationalised. While it is dominated by a small number of countries and regions, none of them has full control over every segment in the supply chain and geopolitics can be a risk factor. While the US has imposed sanctions and trade restrictions on China to hinder its development in chip making, academic James Pang says that given the nature of the industry, the current status quo will be maintained for some time.