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Pelosi meeting with TSMC in Taiwan


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will meet with the chairman of Taiwan’s largest semiconductor manufacturer during her visit to the island, in a sign of how important computer chips are to the U.S. economy and national security.

Pelosi and the chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Mark Liu, will discuss the implementation of the recently passed Chips and Science Act, which provides $52 billion in federal subsidies for domestic chip manufacturers, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke. on condition of anonymity to discuss Pelosi’s sensitive schedule.

The meeting, planned for Wednesday Taiwan time, comes as TSMC is building a chip factory in Arizona and considering expanding that project to include additional factories at the same site, one of the people said. said.

Small electronic components are the brains that make all modern electronics work. They have been in short supply worldwide for nearly two years due to rising demand and a lack of the expensive factories needed to make the components, prompting countries around the world to scramble to produce more. manufacturing sites.

TSMC is the world’s largest chip manufacturer and an important supplier to the United States and other Western countries. It is the largest of Taiwan’s chipmakers, which together produce more than 90 percent of the world’s top technology, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.

Taiwan official calls for approval of US computer chip subsidies

The United States uses TSMC-manufactured chips in military equipment, including F-35 fighter jets and Javelin missiles, and in supercomputers at US national labs, according to one of the people familiar with the meeting. Major consumer electronics companies including Apple also rely on a variety of semiconductors produced by TSMC.

U.S. officials have been alarmed about the trust in recent years because of China’s aggressive rhetoric toward Taiwan, a self-governing democracy that Beijing claims as its territory even though it never rules. Those concerns prompted officials and lawmakers to pressure TSMC to build manufacturing facilities in the United States.

In May 2020, TSMC agreed to build a $12 billion factory in Arizona to produce chips with five-nanometer transistors, a high-tech type of semiconductor used in consumer electronics. For comparison, the average human hair is about 60,000 nanometers thick.

That construction has begun and is targeted for completion late next year, on a site in north Phoenix that can accommodate several additional factories. TSMC is now considering expanding its plans to build more plants at the site, one of the people familiar with Pelosi’s planned meeting said.

In an interview in June, a Taiwanese minister and TSMC board member said the company’s pace of construction in the Phoenix area would depend on the passage of the federal subsidy law, which Congress approved last week. President Biden is expected to sign it soon.

One obstacle TSMC has encountered in Arizona: There aren’t enough trained semiconductor engineers in the area to operate the facility, said minister and board member Ming-Hsin Kung. That’s why the company started sending new employees to Taiwan for training, including professionals skilled in other types of engineering, he said.

About 250 have already traveled for training, including hands-on work at TSMC’s chip factories.

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