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TSMC at Centre of Taiwan Election Row Over China Tensions

Vice-presidential candidates clashed with one blaming the ruling DPP for provoking Beijing and forcing the chip giant to invest overseas

Logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) in Hsinchu
The logo of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) in Hsinchu, Taiwan. Photo: Reuters


Taiwanese chip giant TSMC was dragged into the middle of the disputed island’s increasingly tense election campaign on Monday, when candidates argued over the company’s overseas investments and whether tensions with China could force the firm to leave.

The January 13 presidential and parliamentary election is happening as China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has stepped up military pressure to assert those claims, including staging war games near the island.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest contract chipmaker and island’s most important company, is occasionally mentioned on the campaign trail, though issues that affect the sector such as the stability of the power grid and water shortages are much more frequently discussed.

Speaking at a live televised debate, Jaw Shaw-kong, the vice-presidential candidate for Taiwan’s largest opposition party the Kuomintang (KMT), said that Wall Street financiers had met him before he knew he was entering the presidential race and asked if there was going to be war.


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“If Taiwan does not have a peaceful environment, nobody will dare invest,” Jaw said, blaming the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for tensions with China.

“Our TSMC wants to run off overseas. Taiwan plus one – one factory in Taiwan, one overseas, hollowing out our Taiwan.”

TSMC, which is building factories in Japan and the US state of Arizona plus planning another in Germany, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

The company and the government have repeatedly said the bulk of manufacturing, including of the most advanced chips, will be kept in Taiwan.

The DPP’s vice presidential candidate Hsiao Bi-khim, formerly Taiwan’s high profile de facto ambassador to the United States, told Jaw that foreign investment has reached record highs under the DPP administration.

“TSMC is the pride of Taiwan and should not be used for political competition or consumption. It is our sacred mountain protecting the country,” she said, using a commonly used expression in Taiwan describing how important the company is for the island’s economy.

TSMC makes decisions on their global footprint based on industry and customer needs, Hsiao added.

“We hope all Taiwanese businesses will have everyone’s blessing in the process of the global layout.”


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

Xi Warned Biden That China Would Reunify With Taiwan – NBC

TSMC Gets China Chip Waiver From US, Eyeing ‘Permanent’ Permit

German Firms Blame Taiwan Tensions For China De-Risking Push

‘Frustrated’ in US, TSMC Finds Japan Chipmaking a ‘Natural Fit’




Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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