How Silicon Valley looks at the Taiwan miracle (10): Where is Taiwan heading?

Colley Hwang, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0


It's been six generations since my great-great-great grandfather moved to Taiwan from the Chinese mainland, and I have been doing industry research in almost my entire career. I know that it is not only the semiconductors but also the entire ICT ecosystem where Taiwan can exert its influence globally.

In 2022, the total revenue of Taiwan's listed companies will exceed US$1 trillion, and the impact of Taiwan's industry mostly formed by contract manufacturers on the global supply chain will far exceed this figure. TSMC's revenue will exceed US$76 billion in 2022, but the foundry house's influence is immense. If anything happens to the Taiwanese supply chain, the impact will be far beyond the extent of the war in Ukraine.

An economic depression will be accompanied by inflation, and how many of the world's eight billion people will suffer? Some friends of mine have shown concerns about the tensions across the Taiwan Strait, but I think if the Chinese leader is rational and the US has enough counterbalancing forces, there won't be war in the next five to 10 years.

If conflicts did break out, then let's bravely observe what changes the world would see in the very first row from the stage. The key to Taiwan's survival lies in whether it has enough influence on the world. But different people have different opinions about this matter, and I even heard people in Silicon Valley - where I recently participated in a symposium at Stanford University - say that it is a matter about making choices to meet one's needs.

A Stanford scholar from China questioned Taiwan's bid to officially call itself by the name it has been generally known: "I don't understand it. Hasn't it been fine to call it 'Chinese Taipei' or 'Taipei Cultural Center'? Why would you want to change it to 'Taiwan' to provoke China?" Well, how can people who have never been bullied understand the plight and feelings of Taiwan?

How can Taiwan define its "national security policy" if it's not a country? Taiwan hasn't had a national security policy for a very long time because of disputes over the definition of "country" among its people. But many Taiwanese who have been living overseas and don't have much to do with Taiwan anymore still romanticize the one-party rule of the past.

Chinese economist Xu Chenggang says that China after the 20th National Congress is a horrible country with Xi Jinping dictating everything. The communist party has always been working in a top-down decision-making mode, and the HSBC was even asked to set up a communist branch.

What China fears is "peaceful evolution." For those who lived through the Maoist era when they were young, the present China is just relapsing into the past: history is repeating itself, just in a different form.

We pay closer attention to US policies than to Taiwan's policies. As a new global order is forming, the existing policies may no longer be viable or effective, and the US is also exploring various possibilities.

(Editor's note: This is part of a series of articles DIGITIMES Asia president Colley Hwang wrote about his observations during a recent trip to Silicon Valley.)

Colley Hwang, president of DIGITIMES Asia, is a tech industry analyst with more than three decades of experience under his belt. He has written several books about the trends and developments of the tech industry, including Asian Edge: On the Frontline of the ICT World published in 2019, and Disconnected ICT Supply Chain: New Power Plays Unfolding published in 2020.