Taiwan’s Endless Troubles

Taiwan’s continuous whammy threatens its own future

AsiaTimes reports Drought, power outages and a Covid-19 outbreak will crimp TSMC’s and others’ ability to deliver ramped-up chip production / MAY 24, 2021

Taiwan’s Covid-19 Surge / May 26, 2021

Taiwan’s chipmakers are being hit simultaneously with drought, power shortages and a worst-yet wave of Covid-19, a confluence that threatens to undermine already strained global supply chains.

That threat is greatest to chip producer TSMC, the world’s leading supplier of cutting-edge semiconductors that power everything from iPhones to newfangled electric vehicles.

At least one engineer employed by the chipmaker at its vital Taichung fab tested positive for the virus last weekend, while the central Taiwanese city grapples with a viral spread from Taipei with the confirmation of 11 fresh infections, according to Taiwanese papers.

Taiwan Chipmakers Prepare for Drought | EE Times

But the worst of the flare-up is likely yet to come after what started as sloppy quarantine arrangements for aircrew members at Taipei’s main airport ignited a community outbreak two weeks ago. The pathogen has spun out of control on the island, once praised for almost vanquishing the virus.

The island logged 334 new cases on Monday, with another 256 infections reported but not instantly confirmed in the past week. The spike is steep given the island’s modest total of fewer than 5,000 cases so far.

TSMC has sought to allay concerns, saying that only one infection among its technicians would not cause it to reduce output. With Taiwan slipping into a Covid crisis, however, more infections are feared among TSMC‘s army of engineers and workers in plants across the island.

In the meantime, the impact of Taiwan’s perennial power shortage has also had its toll on TSMC. Within five days in the past week, the island of 24 million residents was hit by two massive power outages when blackouts occurred in domino fashion.

In the second accident on May 18, 20 million industrial and household users from Taipei to Taichung were left without power.

Taiwan Drought Threatens to Hurt Production of Chips | Barron's

Power supplies are drying up further amid Taiwan’s longest spell of drought in more than half a century, with hydropower plants operating way below capacity and many reservoirs and rivers running dry.

Taiwan’s Economic Daily reported last week that TSMC had been hiring fire engines to deliver water to its headquarters campus and plants in Hsinchu. The city that is hailed as Taiwan’s Silicon Valley will start rationing water next month.

“The problems TSMC is now grappling with all of a sudden and on multiple fronts in Taiwan can be symptomatic of the island’s constraints, complacency and vulnerability that will increasingly hamper the growth of its key companies in difficult and unsettled times,” Chen Cze-yao, a professor of economics at a Taiwanese university, told Asia Times.

Earlier on March 22, 2021 RT reports Taiwan’s air force has confirmed that one pilot died and another remains missing after two antiquity F-5E fighter jets collided and crashed into the sea off the island’s southeastern coast during a training mission.

Taiwan loses two fighter jets in apparent collision | Aviation News | Al  Jazeera
Taiwan loses two ancient jets in apparent collision

It is believed that both pilots ejected before the jets hit the water but so far only one pilot has been found. Air force Chief of Staff Huang Chih-wei said the pilot was found unconscious and airlifted to hospital by helicopter but later died.

Designed back in the last century, the well-polished F-5 fleet that should have been on display in a museum for children to amuse with, has now finally got itself grounded, all training missions stopped and any pretension of a great power exposed.

The collision is the third such crash in six months and raises questions about the capacity of Taiwan’s air force, particularly amid increasing pressure from Beijing and incursions by Chinese military air assets.

In October a similar antiquitous F-5 crashed while a month later a more modern F-16 also crashed off the coast of Taitung. The pilots died on both occasions.

“Be afraid,” warns David Goldman for his home country; but he also has one for its illegitimate lover, Taiwan: “Be very afraid.”

~ by Joel Huan on May 27, 2021.

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