Oxford Debate: Will China Win the Race for Supremacy in the Semiconductor Production?VIEW EVENT DETAILS
With Sophie-Charlotte Fischer, Jimmy Goodrich, Jan-Peter Kleinhans and John Lee
Semiconductor chips are built into satellites, cars, computers, smartphones and basically every other electronical device – they own our lives. Despite their tiny size, the chips contain billions of transistors to store, move and process data in modern electronics. Their production is highly complex and only a couple of firms are able to produce the most advanced chips – on which the success of every larger tech company depends on. Currently, the biggest player in the semiconductor industry by far is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). More than 90% of the most advanced chips are supplied from Taiwan. The island currently dominates the market – making semiconductors not only an economical, but also a geopolitical issue. Both the U.S. and China are trying to catch up in the race for control over the semiconductor supply chain. Part of the Made in China 2025 industrial strategy published by the Chinese government is to expand its domestic production of semiconductors to meet 80% of domestic demand by 2030.
Will China be able to meet its goals, and build a domestic production of advanced semiconductors? Or is the lead that TSMC has unreachable? What influence does politics have on the industry? And what does it all mean for already heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait?
In this Oxford Debate, we are debating whether China can reach its goal of establishing a world-leading semiconductor industry by 2030.
About Oxford Debates
The Oxford Debates at Asia Society Switzerland are a format to address ‘big’ questions that have no one answer or solution but are inviting many conflicting views. Four renowned experts in the field form teams of two, one team arguing for the motion, the other against it.
The Oxford-style format is broken down into four sections: opening remarks, rebuttals, a moderated question-and-answer session, and closing remarks. Before and after the debate the audience is polled whether they agree with the motion or not. The voting breakdown is not shared publicly until the end of the debate. The greater percentage change between the first and second votes determines the debate’s winning team.
Disclaimer: Positions presented in the debate do not necessarily represent the speakers’ views.
Motion: China will win the race for supremacy in the semiconductor production by 2030
Dr. Sophie-Charlotte Fischer is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich. She is also a Research Affiliate with the Centre for the Governance of AI (GovAI) in Oxford. Sophie’s research focuses on the geopolitics and governance of emerging technologies. Research topics of interest include the U.S.-China competition in emerging technologies, the EU’s approach to geopolitics and technology, and the role of technology firms in international security. Sophie holds a doctorate in Political Science from ETH Zurich. In her thesis, she investigated how technology companies shape the strategies available to the American government to respond to China’s technological rise.
Jimmy Goodrich is the vice president for global policy at the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). In this role, Jimmy leads SIA’s global policy team and directs SIA’s international competitiveness, trade, export control, supply chain, global market research, and China policy agenda. Previously he was director of China policy at the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) in Washington D.C. Before moving to Washington D.C. in 2012, Jimmy spent a total of seven years working in the tech sector in China, including for Cisco Systems, APCO Worldwide, and USITO.
Jan-Peter Kleinhans is head of Technology and Geopolitics at Stiftung Neue Verantwortung (SNV) – an independent, non-party, non-profit, tech-policy think tank in Berlin, Germany. His focus is on the analysis of semiconductors as a strategic asset, how resilient the global semiconductor value chain is to external shocks and how geopolitics effect this value chain. Jan-Peter testified at the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission and presented his work at the Dutch parliament, among others. Jan-Peter has been working at SNV since 2014 and was responsible for mobile network security (2018-2020), in particular 5G security and the issue of the trustworthiness of network equipment vendors. He presented his work on 5G security to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Bundestag, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, among others. Before that he worked on the topic area of IT security in the Internet of Things. He studied communication sciences in Uppsala, Sweden and business informatics in Darmstadt, Germany. Jan-Peter is Fellow of the Transatlantic Digital Debates 2016. (Picture: © Sebastian Heise)
John Lee is director of the consultancy East West Futures. He is also a researcher at the Leiden Asia Center, a consultant for the International Institute for Strategic Studies and Co-lead on the EU China Semiconductor Observatory. John’s research focuses on China and digital technology, in particular China’s cyberspace governance regime, the semiconductor industry and future telecommunications networks. Previously he was a senior analyst at the Mercator Institute for China Studies and worked at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Department of Defence. He tweets @J_B_C16.