Taiwan’s chip sector is vital to help the US maintain a technology edge over China, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a hearing of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington on Tuesday.
Senators quizzed Blinken about whether the US would help Taiwan if it were attacked by China, especially given the nation’s importance in the global semiconductor industry.
Blinken said that the US has a significant advantage over China in its ability to produce high-end semiconductors and there are a few countries, including Taiwan, that are critical components of that ability.
The US is taking significant steps with Taiwan, Japan and the Netherlands, among others, to make sure “the highest-end semiconductors are not transferred to China, or China does not get the technology to manufacture them,” he said.
“Taiwan is integral to that,” he added.
The question from US Senator Robert Menendez, who said he was asked on a recent trip to Taiwan, Australia and Japan whether the US could meet the demands of its strategic competition with China without a clear economic and trade agenda in the region.
If China were to control Taiwan, which produces 90 percent of all high-end semiconductors, “the world would be in a world of hurt,” Menendez said.
Given those circumstances, if the US did not help Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack, it would send a message to other countries that if Washington “didn’t do it for Taiwan, they’re not going to do it for us,” he said.
US Senator Jim Risch urged Blinken to do more to help Taiwan.
“We started too late in providing security assistance to Ukraine,” Risch said. “We cannot make the same mistake with Taiwan. Supporting an island during the war is much more difficult. Our assistance must be there beforehand.”
Blinken said that the US is determined that Taiwan would have “all necessary means to defend itself against any potential aggression, including unilateral action by China to disrupt the status quo” that has been in place for many decades.
In addition to arms sales to Taiwan, the US has expedited third-party transfers to support an indigenous defense capability and is focused on helping Taiwan as it improves its asymmetric capabilities, he said.
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