Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC)
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Chinese state-run media blames Taipei for allowing Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co to submit chip supply information to the US government. Photo: Shutterstock

Chinese media continues tirade against Taipei for letting chip maker TSMC comply with US request for semiconductor supply data

  • State media accused Washington of ‘extorting data’ from TSMC, Samsung and other top chip firms to serve the US government’s semiconductor development agenda
  • Neither China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Ministry of Commerce has made an official comment about TSMC’s response to the US survey
Chinese state-run media on Tuesday continued its tirade against the decision by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) to hand over chip supply chain information to the US government, blaming Taipei for being soft on Washington.
TSMC, the world’s largest contract chip manufacturer, and other major companies directly involved in the semiconductor industry this week responded to a survey by the US Department of Commerce, which requested information about their product inventories, demand and delivery dynamics to better understand the ongoing global chip shortage.
Complying with the US government’s request was described as a “surrender” for TSMC, according to an article published by Beijing Business Today, a newspaper affiliated with Beijing Daily – the official organ of the Chinese Communist Party’s Beijing Municipal Committee.
That report accused Washington of extorting data from TSMC, Samsung Electronics and other top chip firms to serve the US semiconductor development agenda, citing Bai Ming, a researcher with China’s Ministry of Commerce.
“No one can guarantee that the data from Samsung and TSMC, once in hands of the US Commerce Department, will not end up in hands of [US players] like Intel,” Bai was quoted as saying. “There’s just no external oversight.”
A wafer fabrication facility of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest contract chip maker, is seen at the Central Taiwan Science Park, located in Taichung City, on March 25, 2021. Photo: Agence France-Presse
That article echoed an opinion piece published last Saturday by Reference News, a newspaper administered by state-run Xinhua News Agency, that said Taipei lost its “courage to say no the US” because it needs Washington’s protection and military resources.

The commentary indicated that the US sought “core” information from major semiconductor firms like TSMC, which would be “naked” in the eyes of Washington once they provide such data.

While state media outlets have denounced TSMC’s response to the US survey, neither China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs nor the Ministry of Commerce has made an official comment about the chip maker’s action. The country’s Taiwan Affairs Office in October blamed the island’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party for being too weak to support TSMC in turning down the US request for data.
Taiwan’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Wang Mei-hua, had earlier said her office would not intervene in the decision of local chip firms to submit the required information to the US Commerce Department. The US agency had a November 8 deadline for submitting data.

Speculation swirls in China over TSMC’s response to US data request

Speculation on the mainland over how the data submitted by TSMC, which is a major supplier to Apple and Qualcomm, could potentially threaten the country’s security and semiconductor ambitions is a reflection of mistrust caused by tensions between Beijing and Washington, which have been locked in a tech war and trade rivalry.

Such an impact has been downplayed by analysts. “TSMC already discloses China revenue contribution in its quarterly [financial] reports,” Sravan Kundojjala, a senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said on Monday.

While no mainland Chinese companies were targeted by the US survey, Washington’s request for data set off alarm bells within the domestic semiconductor sector, which has faced mounting restrictions from US sanctions that curtail access to advanced chip technologies and equipment.

US aims to ease semiconductor crunch by working with allies: official

As of Monday, about 40 entities including semiconductor companies, universities and certain individuals have responded to the US government’s survey.

TSMC submitted three documents on November 5 to the US government, two of which were kept confidential. The document made available for public viewing included forecast revenue this year as well as sales figures for 2020 and 2019. No client information can be found in the public document.

Data submitted by memory chip suppliers Samsung and SK Hynix did not include confidential information, such as the names of clients and inventory levels, according to a report by Korea Times on Tuesday.