Taiwan’s Semiconductor Industry and Its Silicon Shield Against China : Planet Money : NPR

Annabelle Chih/Getty Images

HSINCHU, TAIWAN - SEPTEMBER 16: Close up of circuit board on display at Macronix International Co. Ltd on September 16, 2022 in Hsinchu, Taiwan.  Taiwan's semiconductor manufacturing capabilities are crucial to global supply chains.  Taiwan accounts for about 60% of global semiconductor foundry revenue, according to media reports.  (Photo by Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)

Annabelle Chih/Getty Images

The Communist Party of China claims that Taiwan is – and always has been – part of China. Meanwhile, many on the island say Taiwan is independent from China and a self-governing democracy. One thing that may protect the island in this global feud: semiconductors.

Semiconductors or microchips can be found in virtually everything – cars, laptops, phones, ATMs, satellites and even nuclear weapons. Taiwan is a world leader in the production of semiconductors; people even call its semiconductor industry its “Silicon Shield”. The theory goes that if the world relies on Taiwanese semiconductors, then maybe the world would stop China from invading Taiwan. In addition, China also needs Taiwanese semiconductors, it might not disrupt the industry.

The story of the construction of this Silicon Shield is only part of a story of economic development so dramatic that it is known simply as: “The Miracle of Taiwan”. On today’s show, we’re teaming up with Throughline, NPR’s Peabody Award-winning podcast, to tell this epic story. From revolution to the Cold War to a visionary finance minister. Plus, we’ll meet the love-loving Taiwanese engineer who managed to break into your favorite Nintendo products by pulling off one of the craziest global business schemes we’ve ever heard.

Today’s episode was reported by Planet Money and Crossing lineNPR’s show about how the past never passed. Hear the story of Throughline, “Silicon Island”.

Music by Ramtin Arablouei: “Open”, “Arrival”, “KT Li”, “The Face of an Ironist”, “The Park”, “Back to Taiwan”, “The Nintendo Heist”, “All the Stops” and ” Montreal.”

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