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11 May, 2023 23:51

US congressman explains remark about ‘blowing up’ Taiwan’s semiconductor industry

Seth Moulton claims that a video quoting him about chip-making factories is Chinese disinformation
US congressman explains remark about ‘blowing up’ Taiwan’s semiconductor industry

US Representative Seth Moulton on Thursday accused the Chinese government of twisting his remarks about destroying the Taiwanese semiconductor industry in order to damage Washington’s relations with Taipei. 

“One of the interesting ideas that’s floated out there for deterrence is just making it very clear to the Chinese, that if you invade Taiwan, we’re gonna blow up TSMC,” the Massachusetts Democrat had said on May 2, at a conference in California. TSMC stands for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which makes the majority of the world’s advanced chips. 

By May 6, a video clip of that remark was circulating on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. On Thursday, Moulton claimed that the Chinese Communist Party “selectively clipped my comments, spread them on social media, and attempted to undermine the US-Taiwan partnership.”

“The CCP has once again tried to divide the US and Taiwan using disinformation by deliberately taking a comment of mine out of context,” he told Taipei’s Central News Agency (CNA).

Moulton did not deny he said what he said, but insisted he was trying to discuss ideas on “how to convey to the CCP the enormous costs they would incur if they choose to invade Taiwan.”

Asked about the comment on Monday, Taiwanese Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng said the island’s military “will not tolerate any others blowing up our facilities.” On Wednesday, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu Jaushieh told reporters that some media outlets may have succumbed to “China’s cognitive warfare” by quoting Moulton’s partial remarks.

Moulton was speaking at the Milken Institute’s 2023 Global Conference in California. After bringing up the destruction of TSMC, he added, “I just throw that out, not because that’s necessarily the best strategy, but because it’s an example. Of course, the Taiwanese really don't like this idea, right?”

“This is a terrible idea,” fellow panelist and former Pentagon official Michele Flournoy said.

“I’m not promoting the idea. I’m not promoting the idea,” Moulton said in response. “What I’m saying is these are some of the things that are actually actively being debated amongst US policymakers.”

The US Army War College published a paper in 2021 that suggested destroying TSMC as part of a scorched-earth tactic that the US and Taiwan could embrace to deter China from seizing the island by force.

Beijing considers Taiwan a part of China to be reintegrated – preferably peacefully – at some point. The island is currently ruled by descendants of the Nationalists who lost the Chinese Civil War and were evacuated by the US from the mainland in 1949.