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Asianometry Reacts to a Trash Article
"Taiwan's intent to decouple from us?"
A few people have sent this one article to me, asking about whether it is a huge deal or not. At first I was going to ignore it, since it takes far more effort to clean up monkey poo than it is to throw it, but enough people have asked about it that I got to write something. I am not going to link it because they don’t deserve that.
If you want the short summary: This is fear-mongering, poorly written trash topped off at a terrible clickbait line.
I would recommend reading the actual source article for information on what actually happened, rather than this.
Terrible Clickbait Title
The title of this is terrible. But I want to break down exactly why it is terrible, so that you know what tactics writers use to get you. I know, because I have to think about this stuff when writing titles for videos.
I have some problems with this terrible title: “Taiwan chipmakers hint at decoupling from the US”. The use of the word “hint” is an informational dark pattern. It adds a bit of insidiousness to the whole topic, a silent threat. It motivates the user to click because it implies that there is something happening behind their back.
Lies From the Start
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to back it up. If it is not provided, then you should dismiss it outright. Just utter trash.
This is the first line from the Trash Article:
Taiwan’s chip fabricators signed an agreement on December 3 to create their own semiconductor equipment industry, opening an “option to decouple from the West,” in the view of a prominent US research firm.
Let’s go look at the actual source article from Taipei Times. It says:
Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International Taiwan president Terry Tsao, Taiwan Machine Tool & Accessory Builders’ Association chairman Habor Hsu and Taiwan Electronic Equipment Industry Association chairman Laurie Wang, as well as Vice Premier Shen Jong-chin, second row second left, and Deputy Legislative Speaker Tsai Chi-chang, second row second right, attend the signing of a memorandum of understanding in Taipei yesterday to promote the localization of semiconductor equipment production.
Note the actual organizations. Taiwan’s big two chipmakers are TSMC and UMC. I don’t see TSMC and UMC in the above. That is because the writer lied about that.
They are positioning this as “TSMC and UMC are developing their own semiconductor equipment to cut off the US”. The reality is: “Some nonprofit industrial groups in Taiwan focused on selling hardware and tools are interested in getting a piece of the semiconductor tools pie”
Why on earth would TSMC want to decouple from the United States?
Their stock is dual-listed in the United States.
Many of their top researchers live in the United States right now.
They are literally building their second American fab - in Arizona.
Morris Chang is an American citizen.
I recall that one of their current CEO or Chairman - don’t recall which - is an American citizen
Just utter trash.
The writer has two basic sources . The first, I already spoke about. The second is below:
Industry analyst Dan Hutchison of the semiconductor research group VSLI wrote on December 8 that a home-grown chip equipment industry “would make it possible for Taiwan to decouple from the West. Worse, it points to a post-globalization world heading to a dark age of over-supply, fractured R&D resources and low innovation.”
No link is given. If I was VSLI and an analyst wrote a research note, then there should be something in their news releases. Nothing. Just utter trash.
I went to Dan’s LinkedIn to see if he posted anything about this on December 8th. Nah.
I reckon they just Googled some guy and made up a quote. Prove me wrong otherwise. Also, I just want to add that they spelled the guy’s name wrong. He’s actually Dan Hutcheson with an “e”. Just utter trash. And sloppy too.
Normally, that would be enough for me but I am feeling particularly bitter today. The article specifically targets America and ignores that Taiwan is buying the majority of their equipment from Europe and Japan:
The two top providers of chip-making equipment, Applied Materials and LAM, both are American. Tokyo Electron, Japan’s largest equipment maker, increased its China sales from 50 billion yen ($441 million) in 2015 to 400 billion yen this year.
It is funny that they would call Applied Materials and LAM Research the two top providers of chip-making equipment and forget that ASML, Nikon or Canon exist. Lithography makes up to 70% of the value of the equipment sitting inside those TSMC clean rooms. None of the companies making that are American.
America hasn’t done lithography equipment since the first Indiana Jones movie. If Taiwan’s chipmakers are decoupling from anyone when they go and develop their own chip equipment, they are decoupling from Europe or Japan. Which they are not. Great video about this down there.
As for the second part of the paragraph, the sentence notes that Tokyo Electron sells so much stuff to China. What about Taiwan? The Trash Article states that Tokyo Electron sold 400 billion yen to China this year.
This information is of dubious quality. Past 4 quarters, Tokyo Electron did indeed sell 438 billion yen to China. But that’s not this year. I am being petty here, but I don’t care.
I guess the author’s intent (if he ever had one) is to point out that China is a massive growth market for Tokyo Electron. I suppose it is. But Korea and Taiwan buy just as much. And I reckon that Q1 surge from China is due to expectations of coming sanctions.
Furthermore, it goes on to say that Taiwan is looking to “decouple” from the United States. It is a big leap of logic to go from some random Taiwanese industry groups are working on localizing European equipment, to “Taiwan tearing themselves away from the grips of the evil American imperialists”. Just utter trash from a Trash Article.
I think a decoupling would be a huge surprise to the members of Taiwan’s government who invited people from Taiwan’s unofficial embassy the AIT to their opening ceremony for their Meet Greater South exhibition this weekend.
It would be a huge surprise to the members of ITRI, the government research institution that founded TSMC. They recently invited members of AIT to visit their work and looked forward to more collaborations. What a decoupling!
This piece is trash. The writer lied to you. It throws monkey poo. Don’t bother with the monkey poo. Lately I’ve been seeing more of these things- videos and articles
Taiwan should have an interest in localizing their semiconductor tools. Anytime when your core industry depends on a foreign company, there should be a strategic interest in creating local versions of it.
But writing a memorandum of understanding is decades away from real equipment in real cleanrooms. The list of countries and companies that have tried to do it too but failed is very long. And lastly, just because some private companies want to switch suppliers, does not mean Taiwan and the United States - or Taiwan and Europe or Taiwan and Japan for that matter - are on the outs.
Just utter trash.