Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu has appealed to European countries to think of Taiwan’s ‘situation’ and strengthen ties with the island in return for its continued chip investment in the continent.
Wu made his comments in reference to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chipmaker, which is currently working on establishing fabs outside of Taiwan, including one potentially in Germany.
While overseas investments by TSMC need government approval, Wu said Taiwan would not block investment in Europe. But there was a “philosophical issue” that a country wanting Taiwanese help needed to consider a broader picture of relations with Taiwan, he added.
“I think that is something for us to think about,” he said. “Even though we are not selfish in stopping TSMC making investment in other countries, we certainly hope that other countries who want to attract TSMC… can also think about the situation Taiwan is in.”
The self-ruled island is facing increasing aggression from China, which claims Taiwan as its own. Wu has previously said China’s most recent military drills around Taiwan are indicative of Beijing preparing to invade the island.
China, too, has never renounced the use of force to bring Taiwan under its control.
Experts have warned that if China invades Taiwan, and disrupts operations of TSMC, it could cost the global economy up to $1 trillion per year. Chips produced by TSMC are used in 90% of “almost every category of electronic device around the world,” making it possibly the most important company on the planet.
Wu asked not to disclose the country he was in, due to the sensitivity of his trip. Taiwan has no formal diplomatic ties with any European country except the Vatican.
Last week, ahead of the minister’s visit, China warned Europe against having any official exchanges with Taiwan and asked EU leaders to “abide by the solemn commitments made to China on the ‘one China’ principle.”
Wu did visit the Czech Republic and, according to sources, also travelled to Brussels, where EU and NATO headquarters are located.
Wu said EU leaders were clearer than before in calling for peace in the Taiwan Strait, the stretch of water between China and Taiwan, and preservation of the status quo. But the bloc should consider more cooperation with Taiwan, such as a bilateral investment agreement (BIA), Wu said.
The EU included Taiwan on its list of potential BIA partners in 2015, but it has not held talks with Taiwan on the issue since.
“It’s very challenging,” said Wu, adding he was concerned it was being held hostage due to a frozen EU-China investment deal.
“We hope we can go ahead with it and we hope we can persuade the EU leadership to think about this in a positive way.”
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena