The 2023 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (AELM), hosted by the United States, concluded at noon on November 17 (local time). Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) founder and Leader's Representative Dr. Morris Chang (張忠謀) participated in the full meeting and conveyed Taiwan's ideas and positions, successfully completing his mission for the AELM.
On the afternoon of November 17, Dr. Chang convened an international press conference in San Francisco to respond to questions from reporters about the meeting and its outcomes. When asked whether he had achieved the mission entrusted to him by President Tsai, Dr. Chang said he successfully conveyed the four messages that President Tsai had asked him to bring up at the meetings.
When asked whether he had engaged in bilateral talks or had interactions with the heads of state of the US and China, Dr. Chang stated that he interacted quite a lot with President Joe Biden of the US, and had in-depth discussions with Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and National Economic Council Director Lael Brainard, but did not speak with China's President Xi Jinping.
Asked whether he discussed Taiwan's upcoming elections with President Biden and Secretary Blinken, Dr. Chang replied that his interactions with President Biden were of a social nature, while with Secretary Blinken he emphasized our desire to advance peace and prosperity in the region and to increase supply chain resilience.
Asked how long he had met with Vice President Harris and about his impression of their meeting, Dr. Chang stated that he met with her for between 20 and 30 minutes, and that this was not their first meeting, as they had met at the APEC meeting in Bangkok last year where she represented President Biden. He added that his impression was that she is a very intelligent and capable vice president.
Asked about his view of the recent bilateral meeting between President Biden and President Xi, and whether he still feels, as he stated last year, that "globalization is almost dead," Dr. Chang said that in his observation it was a good meeting that helped reduce tensions and re-establish communication channels. As for whether there has been any change in his view that "globalization is almost dead," he said that at least when it comes to the free trade of chips, his view on this has not changed.
Asked about TSMC's construction of a plant in Japan's Kumamoto Prefecture and his thoughts regarding the future of the semiconductor industry in Japan, Dr. Chang replied that he does not have knowledge of all the details of TSMC's operations, but he knows that TSMC in general has been making very good progress in Japan. He added that from his past experience, he can see that Japan's semiconductor industry has very strong potential and competitive advantages.
In response to a question about the views of various countries on supply chain resilience, Dr. Chang commented that all nations hope for more resilient supply chains, and that his conversations at APEC focused primarily on supply chains in the electronics sector, particularly in semiconductors. He stated that TSMC, for example, is expanding productive capacity each year in Taiwan, while also investing in productive capacity in the US and Japan, making a concerted effort to enhance semiconductor supply chain resilience.
Asked how this year's APEC meeting had differed from previous years, how his interactions with US officials had gone, and whether the US government had demonstrated their friendship, Dr. Chang said that he loves San Francisco and was very happy to be back. He also said that he was pleased to see more high-level leaders and officials than at past APEC summits. He noted that this was his first time attending an APEC summit in the US, which is why he was able to meet with more high-level US officials than in past meetings.
In response to a comment that a US politician feels the US would defend stability in the Taiwan Strait only so long as semiconductor industry R&D centers remain located in Taiwan, Dr. Chang said that this viewpoint was purely speculative and that it would be impossible for the US to match TSMC's productive capacity in the short term. He therefore declined to comment on this statement.
When asked about his bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan and whether the two discussed security in the Taiwan Strait and investment in the chip industry, Dr. Chang noted that they did not specifically talk about the Taiwan Strait because each side knows that we are in consensus about wanting peace in the Taiwan Strait. He added that Prime Minister Kishida expressed satisfaction regarding the progress in TSMC's investments in Japan.
Asked about the content of his talks with leaders from other APEC members, and about how Taiwan can reduce its economic reliance on China, Dr. Chang replied that he had interacted with representatives of more than half of the 21 APEC member economies and that their conversations had focused primarily on topics such as peace, economic development, and supply chain resilience.
Asked about his opinion on US restrictions on exports of high-tech goods to China, Dr. Chang stated that this topic was not discussed during the APEC summit, but from the perspective of TSMC, he said he supports such policies, while leaving aside the matter of their effectiveness.
In response to a journalist's statement that the US Department of Commerce has drawn up plans to revitalize the US semiconductor industry by 2030 by building manufacturing clusters, and their question on how this will affect Taiwan and Korea over the coming decade, Dr. Chang responded that in any business, particularly the semiconductor business, the emergence of competition is unavoidable for Taiwan or Korea. Both Taiwan and Korea, he stated, have gone through a lot of competition to get to where they are today, so new competition should not be anything new to them.
With regard to US trade policy, Taiwan-US trade negotiations, tariff barriers, and US positions in the World Trade Organization (WTO), Minister without Portfolio John C. C. Deng (鄧振中) stated that Taiwan would like very much to talk about market access and tariff barriers with the US, but we also understand that this is not a decision that the US government can make at this time, so we will continue to discuss it with the US government. As to US actions in the WTO, Minister Deng said that we understand the US has particular concerns, and that as the WTO is a multilateral forum, the US and all other members, including Taiwan, all need to find a way to work out this reform and cooperate toward this goal.
Asked again about the meeting between President Biden and President Xi, the resumption of military communications between the US and China, how this will affect the long-term security of Taiwan, and about the prospects for US-China relations, Dr. Chang responded that it was a good meeting; it was good news that they resumed military communications, which should help reduce tensions and contribute to the stability of the Taiwan Strait.
Asked whether he had engaged in bilateral talks with representatives of APEC member economies other than the US, and what any such talks had focused on, Dr. Chang stated that he had engaged in relatively serious discussions with representatives of more than half of the APEC member economies. Their conversations, he said, had focused primarily on peace, economic development, and supply chain resilience, and in some cases they had discussed matters related to semiconductors. Particularly in recent years, he added, interest in semiconductors has increased and a lot of people are curious about why Taiwan is so successful in this field.
Asked whether TSMC, in working to launch a new chip plant in Phoenix, Arizona, had encountered problems or issues to do with cultural differences, Dr. Chang said that this type of question should be posed to TSMC, but added that, as far as he knows, while there have been problems, they are being resolved one by one with help from the US government at the federal, state, and municipal levels.