03/21/2023, 13.36
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After 26 years, a German minister in Taipei: Focus on microchips

Technology cooperation agreement signed between the two countries. Berlin risks infuriating China, its largest trading partner. German authorities in advanced talks to build a factory in Germany for TSMC, the world's leading chip producer. The knot of EU subsidies.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - German Education and Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger today attended the signing of a scientific and technological cooperation agreement between her country and Taiwan. The Taiwanese side emphasised that the agreement covers areas such as microchips, artificial intelligence, lithium batteries and sustainable energy development.

It had been 26 years since a German minister visited Taipei. The issue is sensitive for Berlin, given its close economic ties with Beijing. In 2022, for the seventh consecutive year, China was confirmed as Germany's number one trading partner.

In the past two years, trips to Taiwan by Western, mainly European, political representatives have intensified. As expected, such missions infuriate the Chinese, who regard Taipei as a 'rebel province' to be reunified even with the use of force.

Beijing does not want governments with which it has formal diplomatic relations - such as Germany - to have state relations with the Taiwanese, a practice seen as supporting the island's independence parties.

However, Germany remains the European country best placed to host the first European factory of Taiwan's TSMC, the world's largest chip producer. As reported by Reuters, the Taiwanese company is in advanced negotiations with the government of Saxony, an eastern German state.

The plant is expected to be built in the industrial area of Dresden, an important technology hub; production will most likely focus on automobile chips, the flagship of German industry.

The conclusion of the agreement, however, depends on whether TSMC will obtain subsidies from the German authorities, which in turn are looking to the funds allocated by the European Union as part of the Chips Act, the European plan to produce some of the semiconductors necessary for its own technological development.

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