Evergreen Airlines is a private airline in Taiwan.

In March this year, EVA Air announced its net profit in 2021 – cargo revenue increased by 70% compared with the previous year, becoming the main contributor to the company’s performance. Eva air intends to strengthen its cargo Department in the next few years.

In the world under the epidemic, almost all airlines in the world are losing money, but EVA airlines and China Airlines from Taiwan unexpectedly achieved business growth – not because they have any special epidemic prevention tips, but because TSMC in Taiwan Province allows them to have endless things.

The “chip shortage” brought about by the epidemic has led enterprises to place excessive orders and stock up in advance, which has not only disrupted chip manufacturers, but also disrupted all upstream and downstream enterprises, including the freight route responsible for transporting integrated circuits. On the runway of Taipei Taoyuan airport, cargo planes filled with high-value chips roar into the sky every day, flying to all parts of the world.

This is just a small side of the many magical benefits that the semiconductor industry has brought to Taiwan.

In the eyes of many Taiwan residents, Taiwan’s semiconductor industry is not only an economic problem. They call “TSMC” the “mountain protecting X”, and even call the semiconductor industry chain including “TSMC” the “mountain protecting X”.

In their eyes, semiconductors have become Taiwan’s life-saving card.



An electronics factory disguised as an island

Judging from today’s data, Taiwan has become an electronics factory – Electronics related industries have become the backbone of Taiwan’s economy. It is exaggerated to say that the 23 million people on the island are either employees of the electronics industry or their families.

In 2021, seven enterprises located in Taiwan Province entered the “world top 500”, namely: TSMC, Hon Hai Precision, quanta computer, husuo, Compal computer, Wistron group and PetroChina Taiwan. In addition to “PetroChina Taiwan”, the other six are engaged in the electronics industry. In fact, 75% of the 53 global enterprises engaged in contract manufacturing of electronic products are Taiwan funded.

Not to mention TSMC, Hon Hai Precision is what we know as “Foxconn”. Quanta, husuo and Compal are all world-famous manufacturers of electronic products. These three manufacturers produce nearly half of the world’s notebook computers. Wistron is not ordinary. It is a world-famous ODM. I don’t know how many enterprises have been OEM.

This is the social status of the electronics industry in Taiwan, and the core of Taiwan’s electronics industry is semiconductors.

In fact, TSMC alone uses 6.2% of Taiwan’s electricity.

A 5nm wafer factory, with an hourly power of 720mw, consumes 6.3 billion kwh of electricity a year. A 3nm wafer factory, with an hourly power of 880mw, consumes 7.7 billion kwh of electricity a year, which is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 730000 households.

The reason why Taiwan can have a strong semiconductor industry is that it has to start from the era of “little Jiang”.

In the 1970s and 1980s, traditional industries such as chemical industry in Taiwan could not continue to play. First, the operating efficiency is poor, and second, environmental pollution incidents occur frequently. In 1982, there was an outbreak of highly toxic dioxin pollution in Tainan Bay, and in 1983, there was a pollution incident caused by the discharge of wastewater by the amino acid company.

In order to upgrade the industry, the “little Jiang” government at that time focused on the semiconductor industry, and specially invited Zhang Zhongmou from the United States to be the commander-in-chief of the Hsinchu park. At that time, chip manufacturers like ti and Intel all played IDM mode designed and made by themselves. Zhang Zhongmou, who saw the opportunity, began to engage in fabless mode focusing on OEM as soon as he returned to Taiwan Island.

This model is too Nb, which directly liberates the global chip productivity and allows Taiwan to catch the fast train of the semiconductor industry.

According to the statistics of the Ministry of Commerce, in 2020, the output value of Taiwan’s integrated circuit industry was 322.2 billion new Taiwan dollars, equivalent to more than 600 billion yuan, accounting for 24.7% of the total output value of the global semiconductor industry. From the perspective of scale, it ranks second in the world after the United States. In addition, the semiconductor industry also accounts for 14.1% of Taiwan’s GDP, 45.1% of Taiwan’s manufacturing output value, and 34.2% of Taiwan’s total exports.

Simply looking at the data of Taiwan Province, we may not feel the horror of this figure. Let me give you a comparative example, and you will know that in 2020, the real estate industry only accounted for less than 8% of the mainland’s GDP – if we include other industries related to the semiconductor industry, the scale of the whole “Pan semiconductor” industry is likely to exceed 20% of Taiwan’s GDP.

In addition, in the trade between the mainland and Taiwan, the mainland has always been in a deficit position. Many people think this is “Hui”. In a sense, this is a very serious misunderstanding.

The place of “Hui” is elsewhere, and the semiconductor is not really “Hui”.

In 2020, the mainland will buy more than $100 billion worth of things from Taiwan every year, while Taiwan will only buy more than $60 billion worth of things from the mainland every year. But you should know that of the more than $100 billion of Taiwan products bought by the mainland, more than $40 billion are integrated circuits.

If the mainland does not buy chips from Taiwan, then the trade between the mainland and Taiwan is basically in balance (excluding 40 billion integrated circuits, we only need to import 60 billion dollars from Taiwan, and many of them are to take care of industries in Taiwan. This figure is similar to Taiwan’s import from the mainland). That is to say, if we exclude the “deficit” caused by certain policies, almost all of the inevitable “really damaging” deficit between the mainland and Taiwan is caused by integrated circuits.

Finally, in the global freight market, air transport only accounts for 0.21% of the total transport volume in terms of tonnage, but in terms of value, the value of air cargo accounts for 26% of the total cargo value. For Taiwan, this figure is 47%, that is, for every $100 worth of goods exported from Taiwan, $47 is transported by air, which is far higher than the industry average.

The fundamental reason is that Taiwan’s main export products are high-value integrated circuits.

Therefore, in my eyes, Taiwan is now an electronics factory disguised as an island. Its main value in the business world is to manufacture all kinds of electronic products from chips to notebooks for global enterprises.

From this perspective, Taiwan is lucky, because as long as the semiconductor industry can continue to flourish, the economy will not be bad. But at the same time, Taiwan is also sad, because as long as the semiconductor industry has a little trouble, Taiwan’s future and destiny will be seriously impacted. I’m afraid the day when the semiconductor industry is transferred from Taiwan island will be the time when Taiwan island’s economy collapses.

The future development of the semiconductor industry will determine Taiwan’s future destiny.


Taiwan’s abacus

Since the future of the semiconductor industry is linked to the future of Taiwan, what are Taiwan’s semiconductor enterprises doing now?

In! Count! Money!

Yes, in recent years, Taiwan’s semiconductor enterprises have won a lot.

Nearly 90% of Taiwan’s semiconductor products are sold abroad. In 2020, it exported 122.5 billion US dollars of semiconductors, an increase of 20% over 2019 – while the export growth of other products in Taiwan was less than 5%.

The direct reason why Taiwan’s semiconductor enterprises make so much money is the supply chain crisis caused by the epidemic.

To put it simply, the status of Taiwan Island in the global economy today is quite close to that of the Middle East in the 1970s. The difference is that in the 1970s, the Middle East relied on oil, while today’s Taiwan relies on chips.

For example, a traditional fuel vehicle is equipped with about 500-600 chips, while today’s new energy vehicles are equipped with 1000-2000 chips. According to estimates, in 2026, the global sales of traditional vehicles will be 67.8 million, and the sales of new energy vehicles will be 44.2 million. The global automotive industry alone needs 90.3 billion chips.

On the other hand, the number of smart cars that focus on intelligence and strong perception will only be higher – take a Weilai ES7 as an example. One car is equipped with a laser radar, 11 cameras for various purposes, 5 millimeter wave radars, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and 2 high-precision positioning units – and the foundation of these devices is chips.

In the industrial field, the importance of chips is also prominent.

Last year, the director went to Hangzhou to participate in the “cloud habitat conference” held by Alibaba cloud. At the exhibition, he saw the introduction of the “prosperity factory” built by FAW Hongqi in Changchun – there are 14 production lines in the whole factory, industrial robots are everywhere, and the welding process is fully automatic. The whole system is composed of 500000 sensors, which can collect 31 kinds of different data, and the parameters of key process characteristics can be collected 100%.

These sensors and robots are based on chips.

The key to becoming a strong country in the future lies in advanced manufacturing, which lies in informatization and automation, and the foundation of informatization and automation is chips.

Therefore, it is no wonder that many people call semiconductor technology “the rice of industry”, because “it is difficult for a skillful woman to cook without rice”.

Fifty years ago, the world could not work without oil.

Fifty years later, the world will not work without chips.

Taiwan is currently the most important chip producing area in the world.

According to the statistics of relevant institutions in Taiwan, 41.7% of manufacturing enterprises said that due to the epidemic, the delivery time of their primary suppliers had been lengthened by 30.5%, and the most important electronics and optical industry in Taiwan was precisely the hardest hit area of delayed delivery. The delivery time of primary suppliers of individual electronics industry enterprises had been extended by 500% — originally it could be delivered in 10 days, but now it takes 60 days.

In the face of this embarrassing situation, enterprises that need chips will inevitably increase their purchase volume and frantically stock up in advance, thus bringing an endless stream of orders to Taiwan’s semiconductor enterprises.

Another reason why Taiwan’s semiconductor companies are making a lot of money is the Sino US technology competition.

In recent years, the Sino US science and technology competition has become more and more popular, and semiconductors are precisely the core track of this world-class science and technology competition, and Taiwan is precisely the heart of the global semiconductor supply chain.

The total output value of the semiconductor industry in Taiwan is about 110 billion US dollars. The United States and Chinese Mainland are the main customers, accounting for 68.4%, including 40.9% in the United States, 27.5% in the mainland and only 5% in Europe.

For semiconductor related enterprises from top to bottom in Taiwan, the general situation is roughly as follows:

Chip design,

American customers accounted for 7.7%,

Mainland customers accounted for 54.3%,

Mainly for mainland customers.

Chip manufacturing,

US customers accounted for 53.9%,

Mainland customers accounted for 19.7%,

Mainly American customers.

Chip package testing,

American customers accounted for 49.5%,

The mainland accounted for 11.8%,

Mainly American customers.

In a sense, in the field of semiconductors, we and Americans are worried about the same thing – both sides are now amazed at how dependent they are on each other. The United States is constantly trying to “de sinicize” in various senses. Biden’s chip bill has cost hundreds of billions of dollars, in order to enable the United States to have a strong enough and independently controllable semiconductor production capacity. We continue to “de Americanize” and strive to get rid of dependence on the United States in the semiconductor industry, so that “domestic substitution” solutions and “independently controllable” equipment and materials become the mainstream.

It can be said that in this era, in addition to China and the United States, whoever controls semiconductors in the universe is the “target” jointly targeted by Chinese Mainland and the United States, whether it is Gambia or M78.

What is embarrassing is that under the current version, it is Taiwan, China of China that controls the lifeline of global semiconductors – in our view, for the reunification of the motherland and the development of science and technology, we cannot lose Taiwan; In the view of the Americans, in order to maintain their supermacy, they can not give up their influence on Taiwan — Taiwan’s semiconductor enterprises have become the target of the two giants on both sides of the Pacific.

Jan Peter kleinhans, a German science and technology policy expert, commented on Taiwan: Taiwan, which accounts for more than half of the global wafer foundry industry, has become the most lethal “potential single point of failure” in the global semiconductor industry chain.

If today a mysterious force from the East pulls all semiconductor enterprises on Taiwan into a different dimension, then tomorrow the world’s chip technology level will return to the 1970s. If the semiconductor industry in Taiwan, China is a little better, the global technology enterprises will be rotten.

Knowing this general environment, we know the abacus of those semiconductor manufacturers in Taiwan:

To borrow the words of Huang QinYong, President of the electronic times – in this new era dominated by internet giants, the mainland and the United States are the makers of the rules of the game. As a small region, Taiwan has neither the qualification nor the ability to dominate the situation. However, if we can make good use of the two advantages of supply chain and semiconductors to become the so-called “Oriental shield” at the forefront of geopolitics, But this can become the key to Taiwan’s semiconductor industry’s eternal prosperity.

In short, the strategy of Taiwan’s semiconductor enterprises is to move flexibly between the mainland and the United States. Huang QinYong’s words at the beginning of “Oriental shield” also reflect the mentality of semiconductor practitioners in Taiwan in a certain sense: Taiwan’s OEM is pursuing “harmlessness”. In the G2 confrontation, Taiwan (region) has shown resilience. It is President Biden who talks about the supply chain and Taiwan (region) who benefits. Taiwan (region) is indispensable, but it may also be guilty.


The reality of bone feeling

The idea is very full, and the reality is very bony.

President Huang QinYong’s idea is good, but it seems a bit optimistic.

The root of the prosperity of the semiconductor industry in Taiwan lies in the globalization of the semiconductor supply chain – Taiwan laid out semiconductors in the late 1980s and early 1990s, successfully stepped on the pulse of the times, and became the most core link in the global semiconductor supply chain. However, the current trend is contrary to the interests of the semiconductor industry in Taiwan – the supply chain of semiconductors in the world is becoming autonomous / localized.

In fact, several major economies, including China, the United States, Japan, South Korea, and Europe, are not weak in chip technology. The chip design in the United States, the MCU in Japan, the memory chip in South Korea, the MCU and sensor in Europe, and the packaging test in the Mainland — after careful calculation, we all have the skills. The reason why Taiwan can become the heart of the global semiconductor industry today is because of the efforts of the engineers in the Hsinchu Science and Technology Park, but also because of the progress of history.

For Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, the current hot situation of supply exceeding demand is not necessarily a good sign – in this era of crisis, when everyone realizes the “indispensability” of Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, eliminating this “indispensability” has become a top priority for everyone.

Semiconductors are strategic resources for industrial powers. How can Taiwan, a small region, be allowed to enjoy them alone?

Since a few years ago, the mainland has actively promoted “domestic substitution” and “self-control”. In 2019, the second phase of the “national integrated circuit industry investment fund” was established, with a scale of 100 billion. Strongly support the development of semiconductor, artificial intelligence, Internet of things, intelligent automobile and other industries, focusing on the development of terminal applications, and ultimately improve the local semiconductor industry chain ecology in Chinese Mainland to achieve domestic substitution.

Similarly, in early June 2021, the US Senate passed the US innovation and competition act 2021, which is expected to invest $250 billion in the next five years to strengthen the US R & D, manufacturing and supply chain response in high-tech fields such as artificial intelligence, semiconductors, quantum computing, advanced communications, biotechnology and new energy. One of the purposes of this bill is to increase the global market share of American chips from 10% to 30%.

The EU is not willing to be outdone in this regard. In December 2020, 17 member states of the European Union signed the joint statement on the European processor and semiconductor technology program. All countries agreed to cooperate to strengthen the process technology of European semiconductors and improve the status of European semiconductor industry in the global value chain. In March 2021, the European Union released the 2030 digital compass plan, which also focuses on chips, smart cars, the Internet of things and other fields. The actions of Japan and South Korea are also very different. The Japanese Ministry of industry, economy and Trade issued the semiconductor and digital industry strategy, which also focuses on strengthening production and ensuring stable supply.

Obviously, what almost all major economies are doing now is to firmly pull the semiconductor industry chain back into their own hands. Under such a general trend, Taiwan’s semiconductor industry is not as stable as expected.

Although TSMC is indeed the leader of the global semiconductor industry, it is not without rivals. It is true that TSMC occupies 55% of the market, but this is the result of market logic. If countries think more about “safety” than “efficiency” when thinking about semiconductor supply chain, TSMC’s market position is likely to be impacted.

One possibility of this impact is in the mature process Market: China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and Europe. When all parties re accelerate the development of the semiconductor industry, the production capacity of mature processes will certainly increase greatly. Especially in Chinese Mainland, although it is difficult to impact high-end processes in the short term, there is a certain probability that “quantitative change leads to qualitative change” – the chip manufacturing industry in Chinese Mainland can launch an offensive in the mature process market and win the market originally controlled by Taiwanese enterprises at one stroke – TSMC faces greater competition in the mature process market compared with the advanced process market.

In addition, so far, we have not actually implemented a “protection strategy” in the semiconductor market. Generally speaking, in order to protect the development of local industries, the government will generally issue protective policies to limit the market share of non-local manufacturers. However, we have not seen similar things in the semiconductor market so far. Although Taiwan funded semiconductor enterprises are technologically advanced, the mainland is not without players in the mature process market. Once the protective policy is implemented, it is obvious that the semiconductor enterprises in Taiwan are likely to be affected.



We can feel a kind of majestic power from the resumption of events in the past two years: perhaps this “national battle” across the Pacific Ocean began when the United States began to smother Huawei with bad water.

The whole process is like a card game:

The Americans were the first to raise tariffs on Chinese products. We returned them as is and began to increase taxes on American products. In the name of national security, the Americans began to crack down on and sanction Chinese technology enterprises, and we began to promote “domestic substitution”. The United States has introduced the “competition act” and the “chip act” to stimulate its semiconductor industry, and we have set up large funds here. On the second day of Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, the United States met with the responsible person of TSMC. We immediately demarcated the exercise area around Taiwan Island.

Nobody knows what the next card will be.

The electronic times is the most influential media in the semiconductor industry in Taiwan. Huang QinYong, the founder and President of the electronic times, is also an elite in the industry who is familiar with the development laws of the semiconductor industry.

In his latest book, the Oriental shield, Huang QinYong calls the semiconductor industry in Taiwan the “Oriental shield”. He believes that the global “chip shortage” in 2021 highlights the importance of the semiconductor supply chain, which means that semiconductors are the “shield of Taiwan”.

This is somewhat exaggerated.

In fact, when interviewed by the local media in Taiwan, the host asked, “what would happen if the United States asked TSMC to send engineering technicians and materials to the United States?” The problem is that president Huang QinYong is also embarrassed and can only talk about him from the left to the right.

After all, semiconductors are only an industry, which is too fragile in the face of the national will.

However, there is a fact that no strategy can be shaken.

Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, and Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, no matter how big, is just a business. In the face of the true national will, the importance of these things will only be eclipsed.

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