TAIPEI, TAIWAN — The United States has extended a waiver to Taiwanese semiconductor giant TSMC to supply US chip-making equipment to its factories in China, the island’s economic affairs minister said Friday.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest contract producer of computer chips, was among the firms that received waivers last year when Washington imposed sweeping export restrictions to prevent China from getting advanced semiconductor technology.
The United States says the restrictions are necessary to prevent Chinese advances in cutting-edge computing tech, describing them as a national security threat.
But they have sparked concerns among the world’s largest chipmakers about the future of their operations in China.
After South Korea announced Monday its chip giants had received the US green light to send equipment to China, attention turned to the Taiwanese firm.
“My understanding is that TSMC has currently received a waiver extension from the United States. Its operations in mainland China are normal,” Taiwan’s Economic Affairs Minister Wang Mei-hua told reporters outside parliament on Friday.
“I believe that TSMC as an international company will protect business secrets and comply with relevant regulations.”
AFP has reached out to TSMC for comment.
The firm is in a so-called quiet period ahead of an earnings release next week, during which it does not comment on company matters.
Earlier this week, South Korea — home to tech giant Samsung and its smaller rival SK Hynix, both of whom had last year received waivers — announced that the US government had designated the companies’ factories as “verified end users”.
The decision, which eliminates the need for a separate export approval process, means the “most significant trade issue of our semiconductor companies has been resolved”, Choi Sang-mok, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, said.
It had “significantly alleviated companies’ uncertainties over their assembly lines in China”, he told reporters on Monday.
Semiconductors have become a flashpoint issue between the United States and China, which are locked in a fierce battle over access to chip-making technology and supplies.
Self-ruled Taiwan is the home to some of the world’s most advanced companies designing and producing ever-smaller microchips — with TSMC as a key leader of the industry.
China claims Taiwan as its territory, and its ramped-up military pressures against Taipei in recent years — as well as the ongoing Beijing-Washington tech tussle — has chipmaking firms on the island walking a tightrope between business and geopolitical issues.
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