The Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC found itself embroiled in political discourse during a vice presidential debate on Monday, amid discussions about the company’s foreign investments and concerns over Taiwan’s safety for investment due to tensions with China.
The upcoming Jan. 13 election in Taiwan occurs against a backdrop of increased military pressure from China, which claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has intensified its activities, including military drills near the island.
While Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), the world’s leading contract chipmaker and a crucial entity for the island, is occasionally referenced in the election campaigns, discussions primarily revolve around sector-specific issues like power grid stability and water scarcity.
During a televised debate, Jaw Shaw-kong, the vice presidential candidate from Taiwan’s largest opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), mentioned interactions with Wall Street financiers who expressed concerns about potential conflict. Jaw criticized the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for straining relations with China, attributing this tension to fears of dwindling investments, claiming that TSMC was planning to relocate operations overseas, which could deplete Taiwan’s industrial presence.
TSMC, currently establishing facilities in Japan, the U.S. state of Arizona, and planning another in Germany, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. However, both the company and the government have consistently emphasized that the majority of manufacturing, especially of advanced chips, will remain in Taiwan.
In response, Hsiao Bi-khim, the DPP’s vice presidential candidate and former high-profile ambassador to the United States, highlighted record foreign investment under the DPP’s administration. She underscored TSMC’s significance to Taiwan’s economy, cautioning against politicizing the company. Describing TSMC as a national asset, she stressed its vital role in safeguarding the country’s economic interests.
Hsiao reiterated that TSMC’s global strategies are determined by industry demands and customer needs, urging support for Taiwanese businesses as they navigate their global presence.