Good evening. Be honest: A year and a half ago, how many of you had even heard of TSMC? The Taiwan semiconductor manufacturer has long been a big company, and it’s long been an important company, but just recently, thanks to a global chip shortage as well as its awkward position in the middle of U.S.-Taiwan-China tensions, has it become something of a household name. This week’s cover story has everything you need to know to understand how that transformation occurred and why it matters. Elsewhere, we have an interview with Clyde Prestowitz, the former trade negotiator, about the ‘China fallacy’; infographics about Meituan, the food delivery giant in China; reporting on China’s recent measures against bitcoin mining, which are, in part, motivated by environmental worries; and an op-ed about how China’s initiative to halt the rise in commodity prices could save the U.S. from inflationary woes. If you’re not already a paid subscriber to The Wire, please sign up here.
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In less than 40 years, the small, self-governed island of Taiwan has transformed its economy into a technological powerhouse: its semiconductor companies are now the envy of the world. TSMC, Taiwan’s crown jewel, owns nearly 30 percent of all contract semiconductor manufacturing capacity, more than double its nearest competitor. But as Tim De Chant reports this week, that makes TSMC and Taiwan rich targets for China, which has ambitious goals to develop its own semiconductor industry. Amid attacks from China and pressure from the U.S., can TSMC maintain its edge?
Meituan, the food delivery giant, is China’s third-largest tech company. It recently made headlines when its share price plummeted because its CEO quoted a Tang Dynasty poem on social media that was widely believed to be a criticism of Xi Jinping. But Meituan has a lot more going on, including antitrust challenges. This week, The Wire looked at Meituan’s work in and beyond China’s food delivery industry.
Clyde Prestowitz is the founder and president of the Economic Strategy Institute, a research firm concerned with ensuring globalization takes place on a level playing field. Prestowitz served as a counselor to the Secretary of Commerce in the Reagan administration and took part in trade negotiations with China, Japan, Europe and Latin America. In this week’s interview with David Barboza, he talks about the China fallacy, what U.S. politicians of both parties have got wrong about China, and the need for a new ‘Sputnik’ moment.
Illustration by Lauren Crow
China is home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s bitcoin mining, but in recent weeks, the Chinese government has moved against cryptocurrency miners. While China’s previous steps against bitcoin and its ilk were mainly driven by worries over financial risk and online crime, its recent measures are notable because they are, in part, motivated by environmental worries. As Katrina Northrop reports this week, the highly energy-intensive process stands at odds with the nation’s ambitious climate targets.
The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta warned last month that the U.S. might be headed toward an inflationary episode on par with the period following World War II, when the release of pent-up demand fueled a 20 percent surge in prices. But, as Isabella M. Weber, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, argues in this week’s op-ed, China’s recent efforts to stabilize commodity prices matter for the globe and should help to avoid a worst-case scenario in the United States.
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