Intel CEO calls Taiwan unstable and questions chip dependency on Asia, TSMC responds

Intel Core i9-11900K review
Intel Core i9-11900K review (Image credit: Harish Jonnalagadda / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • At the Fortune Brainstorm Tech summit in California, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger reiterated his long-held stance against chipmaking dependency on Asia, asking whether Taiwan was stable what with the ever-looming specter of China hanging over it.
  • TSMC chairman Mark Liu, in a rare public retort, cast doubt over the idea that many would agree with Intel's stance.

Intel's CEO has had a long history of railing against global dependency on Asia for chipmaking needs. However, his latest comments have attracted a direct response from TSMC, which took an opposing stance on the matter.

While speaking at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech summit, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger backed up his stance that the U.S. government should subsidize domestic companies exclusively when it comes to how it spends the $52 billion it has reserved for chipmakers. He pointed to Taiwan as an example of why a foreign investment could be bad, given China's activity in the region. He called Taiwan "not a stable place."

As reported by the Tapei Times, when referencing China's activities regarding Taiwan, Gelsinger asked whether said operations "make you more comfortable or less if you're now dependent on Taiwan as the singular source of technology for the most critical aspect of our human existence and our national security and economy for the future?"

These comments managed to earn a response from TSMC chairman Mark Liu a few days later, a man who is not known for publicly addressing such remarks. He commented that "not too many people will believe what Intel says," according to Bloomberg.

"It will be very negative for the United States to subsidize only American companies," Liu stated. "Unlike Intel, TSMC is very positive about non-U.S. chipmakers expanding capacity in America. It is a great thing."

Both companies have big operations in the works, including TSMC's 3nm tech plans and reported manufacturing contract with NVIDIA for its RTX 40-series graphics cards.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

6 Comments
  • There's nothing good about China's aggressive stance, but this comment from Intel is just pitiful. They've been #1 for decades and this is the kind of dumb bluster they're reduced to. "Those Asians are coming to get us! Give us money, Congress! It's like the Middle East over there!" Poor Intel!
  • Is it maybe in poor taste? Yes. But it’s not illegitimate. If China invades or otherwise destabilizes Taiwan the whole world will suffer. There is a value in a geographically diverse supply chain.
  • If I'm CEO of Intel, I say the same thing. If Congress is giving out money, of course I'm going to ask for the most of it. That said, Intel is also to blame why we are having to rely on Taiwan and China for our processors and Congress should award (and tax) accordingly. And since almost all of the silicon comes from China, you think they will continually allow it to just flow to us if there is a conflict?
  • Bob, the silicon flows from Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese fabs... no significant Chinese fabs exist. That's the source of the problem. Chinese assemble electronics relying on 'borrowed' or licensed tech. Hence, to slow China's ascent, US policy clamped down on IP protection and security laws - like Huawei selling US licensed tech to Iran. China's over reliance on foreign tech is risk to CCP's position, hence clampdown on overseas listings and ownership of data. It's a reset to force local industry to step up and prevent another embarrassing Huawei fiasco. The US strategy is no different, investing in domestic rare earth production and encouraging fab investment like tsmc and Samsung's investments in Texas. It's like Toyota and Honda setting up factories in the US 30 years ago. Maybe someday the CCP will abandon it's insecurity complex, abandon it's awkward attempt to conquer Taiwan, adopt world-class intellectual property laws. Until then, little chance of high end (< 5nm) fab investment in the middle kingdom.
  • I was in two minds in getting a ARC GPU next year. As I have high hopes for competitive product now that Intel is being lead by an engineer. I seriously, expected more from Pat Gelsinger and i thought he would be more mature than this... As it's a classic jealous bully boy tactic you see in a kids playground. 1) It's Intel's fault that the entire world is so reliant on Taiwan, as they couldn't get their act together with the process nodes for years. 2)They stagnated development by decades not just game development, but medical and scientific breakthroughs just so they could reap billions in profits. Thus allowing AMD to completely broadside them with extremely competitive and game changing products. So once again, Intels fault the world is reliant on TSMC. He really has put his foot in it. I'm utterly disgusted, extremely disappointed and will no longer be actively buying any Intel products personally for the forseeable future with my hard earned cash. I will be giving it to AMD and by extension to TSMC as a big, middle finger to Intel. I no longer have any patience for anti competitive practices especially one that is filled with nationalistic xenophobia. If it wasn't nationalistic and xenophobic I would have given it some credence. Even if I didn't agree with it. But, to say funds should only be allocated to US companies and thus Intel gains the most? Pat could have said ”i'm concerned about China's motives and ambitions involving Taiwan, therefore I would cautious and be more in favor if increased allocation of funding for companies based in the US”. Therefore implying TSMC might not be best recipient of Us govt funds. Yes, it's anti competitive, but its not nationalistic nor xenophobic.
  • Cont'd -
    In the outright sense, yes it does have undertones of nationalism and xenophobia as it equates the communist party government's views and ambitions as if they represent the views of all the in people china. However, it's in line what is portrayed by most people regardless where they work. Plus People are rightly concerned about the CCP's views and ambitions.