This year's APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting (AELM), hosted by Thailand, concluded at noon on November 19 (Taipei time). Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) founder and Leader's Representative Dr. Morris Chang participated in the full meeting and conveyed Taiwan's ideas and positions, successfully completing his mission for the AELM.
On the evening of November 19, Dr. Chang convened an international press conference in Bangkok, Thailand to discuss the results of his participation in this year's meeting and respond to questions from the media.
Dr. Chang opened his remarks by saying that he is delighted to see so many friends from the media. He stated that he was appointed by President Tsai Ing-wen as Taiwan's Leader's Representative, and added that he arrived in Bangkok this Thursday and is set to depart on Sunday. He also expressed that he is in high spirits, having met with leaders from many countries and achieving significant progress during their meetings.
Responding to a question from the media about his contact with Vice President Kamala Harris of the United States and the topics they discussed, Dr. Chang said that he and Vice President Harris had a very cordial interaction. Noting that they had met and exchanged a few words the previous day, Dr. Chang stated that their bilateral meeting, where they were photographed together, was held earlier on Saturday, and that Vice President Harris is quite interested in semiconductors and welcomed TSMC's construction of a semiconductor facility in Arizona.
Dr. Chang also mentioned that they have already invited the US Secretary of Commerce to Arizona to take part in the facility's tool-in ceremony on December 6, and that members of what is referred to as "the TSMC Grand Alliance" have also been invited, which includes clients, intellectual property providers, and many vendors that share business relationships with TSMC. He said that Vice President Harris also expressed how pleased she was to meet with him and reaffirmed US resolve to assist Taiwan.
The media also asked Dr. Chang if he had met or greeted President Xi Jinping, or had opportunities to communicate with him during closed-door leaders' meetings. Dr. Chang stated that they had indeed interacted the previous morning when President Xi came to the lounge area, and the two exchanged greetings. Dr. Chang said he congratulated President Xi on a successful 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, while President Xi recalled that they had exchanged greetings in Papua New Guinea four years ago. Dr. Chang also told President Xi that he had hip surgery last year, and Xi responded by saying that Dr. Chang looked good. Their interaction was all very cordial and polite, Dr. Chang said.
The media also asked if the results of this summit represented greater progress than the 2018 meetings or if there were any breakthroughs. Dr. Chang replied that the two are very difficult to compare, as both summits were excellent, but said that he encountered many more people this year, and exchanged views with over half of the 21 leaders and leader's representatives who attended, more than in 2018.
Asked to give his view on APEC reaching a consensus on a Leaders' Declaration, Dr. Chang said that the participants' reaching of an agreement was a great achievement for these APEC meetings.
When asked whether, from Taiwan's perspective, his participation in the APEC meetings and encounters with leaders from other countries would help alleviate regional tensions and competition, Dr. Chang stated that such engagement is helpful, and that he felt that during this year's meetings, many leaders expressed strong expectations for regional peace and stability.
Asked about his previous comments regarding the higher costs of setting up manufacturing plants in the US, and what views he has on the challenges his company faces in expanding its own presence in Arizona, Dr. Chang responded that he still believes costs in the US are higher than in Taiwan, at least 50 percent higher according to experience, but added that this does not go against TSMC's moving a portion of its production capacity to the US. He explained that, while this portion actually constitutes a very small share of TSMC's overall capacity, the production capacity that TSMC is moving to the US is for chips that would be more advanced than those produced by any company in the US, which are very important to the US and very much needed there.
Asked for his views on the Thai government's hosting of APEC 2022, Dr. Chang said he is impressed by the effort that the Thai government put into this year's APEC conference, and is very thankful for Thailand's generous hospitality.
Asked whether he had exchanged views with other leaders on the issue of peace in the Taiwan Strait, Dr. Chang said that, while he himself did not bring up this specific topic, many leaders had expressed their hopes for peace and stability in this region, which he said left little room for doubt on the matter.
Asked about his interaction with Chinese President Xi Jinping, and whether he had expressed concern about stability in the Taiwan Strait or had conveyed any message from President Tsai, Dr. Chang pointed out that these were two separate questions. To the first question, he responded that he and President Xi had exchanged greetings and inquired about each other's health as he had just explained. To the second question, which he said was unrelated to the first, he responded that he had conveyed all of what President Tsai had asked him to convey in the two speeches he had delivered.
Asked whether TSMC is planning to engage in further cooperation in semiconductor production in Southeast Asia or the APEC region, Dr. Chang responded that TSMC is considering a range of places. He pointed out that the US, where TSMC is expanding in Arizona, and Japan, where it has already built a plant, are both APEC members, and added that TSMC could also be considering other places, but said he would not discuss details at that point.
Asked about his discussions with Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan regarding Taiwan's application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and whether Taiwan is hoping for anything from the Japanese government in the accession process, Dr. Chang responded that if Taiwan is to join the CPTPP, all current CPTPP members will have to agree to it. He stated that Taiwan naturally hopes that every CPTPP member will agree to Taiwan's accession, because that is what is needed.
Asked how Taiwan or Taiwanese companies might respond if their interests diverged from or came into conflict with US national interests, Dr. Chang said that question must be answered by the Taiwan government. He pointed out that the question involves a lot of hypotheticals, and noted that, in the international community, common interests are a very important consideration aside from having a common language or common culture. He said that, if the common interests of two countries were to be violated, that would be an issue for the government to decide, an issue which he cannot answer as Leader's Representative to APEC.
Asked about Prime Minister Kishida's praise for cooperation between TSMC and Japanese semiconductor firms, and the prime minister's desire for Japan to work more closely with the Taiwanese semiconductor industry, Dr. Chang expressed confidence that Prime Minister Kishida is pleased with the current cooperative relationship between TSMC and Japan. He pointed out that this cooperation involves manufacturing as well as research and development, and added that Prime Minister Kishida had personally told him that he is very pleased with the present state of cooperation between TSMC and Japan.