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By Tim Hunt

Thinking through Taiwan and China with Hoover fellows

Uploaded: May 6, 2021

If you watched 60 Minutes Sunday night you probably learned some key information about why Taiwan is a critical ally for the United States.
The report, featuring new Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, summarized how semiconductor manufacturing capacity in the United States had fallen to 12% , a major shift. The major manufacturer, to which many firms outsource, is the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. It’s the world leader in making next-generation chips and fortunately has committed to building two new plants (at $10 billion each) in Arizona. Gelsinger said that Intel also is making a major commitment with a new facility in Arizona.
The report also noted that China had failed to develop its own semiconductor manufacturing capability so it was dependent on Taiwan and other countries. This all is magnified by a worldwide chip shortage that has caused automobile assembly lines to halt in the United States and elsewhere as the challenges of a stretched supply chain have become apparent.
The 60 Minutes report echoed a Hoover Institution program last month that explored America’s options, diplomatic, economic and military should China decide to forcibly try to bring Taiwan back into its control. Philip Zelikow, a Hoover fellow, and Robert Blackwill, from the Council on Foreign Relations, co-authored a paper that dug into the issues. They noted that the Taiwan citizenry appreciates its democracy and has no interest in being part of China, particularly after the brutal crackdown on Hong Kong that laid to rest the fantasy of one country, two systems.
The discussion, which also includes Hoover fellows ret. Gen Jim Mattis and ret. Admiral James Ellis, included warning signs that the Chinese Community Party is preparing the public for potential war and increasing the readiness of their military forces. One noted that it is irrelevant how the Chinese citizens feel, it’s all about the communists retaining power in Beijing.
The authors carefully defined America’s national interests and concluded that Taiwan met one of the five criteria. They then outlined four scenarios that ranged from China trying to use its fleet and power to isolate Taiwan to an outright military invasion.
They advocated for an approach that would challenge China’s attempt to block military aid to Taiwan from the United States and its allies by aggressively selling it; if a war breaks out, make sure the burden is on China to expand it (no U.S. attacks on Chinese soil), and finally very publicly plans to break economic ties with China, remilitarize nearby Japan and prepare the United States for general war.
This would contrast with the policy for the last 10 years that was intentionally vague. They pointed out how many times the experts were wrong in history and war broke out—including Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War who missed entirely on whether China would engage. They also cited the German invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939 which Mattis pointed out was tied to the arms industry where the Czechs had the fourth greatest capacity In the world.
Their conclusion, supported by Mattis and Ellis, is the United States needed to decide on a strategy and pursue it open and directly by engaging with China so there’s no misunderstanding of where America stands.
To read the report, please seeTaiwan