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US-China tensions will slow global chip industry, TSMC founder says

NEW YORK: The founder of the world’s biggest chipmaker, Morris Chang, said on Thursday (Oct 26) that increasing tensions over technology between the United States and China will slow down the global chip industry.

Chang, who founded Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co in the late 1980s, made the remarks at an event hosted by the Asia Society in New York. The company has helped the democratically governed island of Taiwan become the world’s leading producer of advanced chips.

US officials earlier this month enacted another set of export restrictions that clamped down on what chips and chipmaking tools can be exported to China after Huawei Technologies last month showed off a phone with a new domestically manufactured chip.

Chang, 92, said that cutting off China’s chip industry from the rest of the world would affect other players beyond China.

“I think that decoupling will ultimately slow down everybody. Of course, the immediate purpose is to slow China down, and I think it’s doing that,” Chang said.

Chang said that the effects of such decoupling were already becoming clear and that many previous economic conflicts between established and emerging powers had ended in wars.

“It looks like counties are mad at each other, that worries me,” said Chang, who characterises the geopolitical tension between the US and China as an existing power confronting an emerging power.

“Our only hope is it doesn’t lead to anything even more serious,” Chang said.

He also praised the higher education system in the US, adding his optimism about the country as TMSC invests to build chipmaking facilities in Arizona.

Born and raised in China, Chang built a career in the US, where he become a naturalised citizen in 1962, before being recruited to build the chip industry in Taiwan. He is now regarded as a legendary figure in the industry that’s caught in the middle of the geopolitical tension.

“I really think this country, which is my country, (the) United States, is still the hope of the world, that’s in spite of all the problems we are having,” said Chang.

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