Impact of globalization on security: case of semiconductors

Impact of globalization on security: case of semiconductors - Monique Ming-chin Chu

The impact of globalization on security has fascinated me as a research topic since my PhD days at Cambridge. In my thesis-turned book by Routledge, The East Asian Computer Chip War, I examine the impact of semiconductor production globalization on interstate security relations by focusing on an understudied case, namely the migration of the Taiwanese chip sector to China, and the security implications of this migration for US-China-Taiwan relations. In the book, security is defined broadly as encompassing aspects of economic, technological and defence security, and the scope and agency of security threats is extended beyond the traditionalist state-centrism. The results from over 160 rounds of elite interviews are combined with findings from secondary data to form the basis of the empirical analysis. I argue that the outcome of the migration is significant in boosting the development of China’s chronically weak microelectronics sector. I further examine the following security repercussions of this production globalization: (a) economic insecurity; (b) security concerns over the prospect of China’s rising semiconductor capability, its contribution to the Chinese military modernization, and the resultant shift in the balance of power in Beijing’s favor; (c) technological insecurity over the prospect of semiconductor-targeted information warfare (i.e. chipping) and over the narrowing technology gap; (d) fear over the denial of critical chip supply on account of foreign dependency. This original piece of work deepens our understanding of globalization-security interconnections as well as China’s rise in the arena of high technology and its strategic ramifications.