In the race for talents in the business world, Taiwan can certainly be more than a pawn in the game of innovation and leadership.
The National Interest
Date: July 12, 2020
By: Patrick Mendis Hon-Min Yau
The Trump administration has maintained a high-profile Sino-American battlefield in the information communication technologies (ICTs) domain, especially with Huawei, ZTE, and other 5G companies in China. In recent months, the Trump White House drew the democratic-ally of Taiwan into its on-going “trade war” with Beijing when Washington suddenly realized that it needed the talents and know-how of this island-nation to compete with the advanced Chinese technology sector.
Yet in his bombshell memoir, The Room Where It Happened, former National Security Advisor John Bolton writes that President Donald Trump often downplayed the importance of U.S. commitments to Taiwan in backroom meetings. Bolton claims that “Although it came in several variations, one of Trump’s favorite comparisons was to point to the tip of one of his Sharpie [marker’s] and say, ‘this is Taiwan,’ then point to [his desk in the Oval Office] and say, ‘this is China.’” For President Xi Jinping of China, however, the size of Taiwan’s ICTs capability is not merely “the tip” of a Sharpie marker.
Like Trump’s criticism of China on one day and then seeking Xi’s help on the next day to win the upcoming election (by having him buy more agricultural products from key American battleground states), his administration has often changed policies to galvanize his personal and electoral advantage. After the United States government imposed federal bans on both buying from, and exporting to Huawei for American companies since 2019, for example, the U.S. Department of Commerce further amended its Export Administration Regulation in May 2020 to stop foreign companies from producing components for Huawei and its affiliates with the use of U.S. technology without approval.
Unmistakably, the U.S. intention is to disrupt Huawei and its supply chain. Since then, Huawei’s strategy has been revised to outsource the manufacturing of its 5G integrated circuits to non-U.S. semiconductor foundries—like Kirin Series designed by HiSilicon, a Chinese fabless semiconductor company based in Shenzhen that is linked mostly to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, TSMC. For the White House, the ban would admittedly function as a “tool of strategic influence” on the Communist Party of China (CPC). [FULL STORY]