Robert O’Brien, Donald Trump’s former National Security Advisor, has said that the US would destroy Taiwan’s advanced semiconductor manufacturing facilities if China launched a successful invasion of the island.
“The United States and its allies are never going to let those factories fall into Chinese hands,” O’Brien told Semafor.
O’Brien, who served as National Security Advisor from 2019-2021, drew a comparison to the British bombing of the French naval fleet off the coast of Algeria in 1940 to prevent the ships from coming under Nazi Germany’s control. The British bombardment killed nearly 1,300 French sailors.
“The Brits didn’t allow the French fleet to remain intact so that it could have potentially gone to the Germans and changed the balance of power for the battle of the Atlantic,” he said.
O’Brien said because Taiwan is home to most of the world’s advanced microchip factories, if China took control, it would make them “like the new OPEC of silicon chips” and give Beijing more control over the world’s economy. He said he couldn’t “imagine” the factories would “remain intact” if China took the island.
O’Brien is not the first to float the idea of the US bombing Taiwan’s chip factories in the event of a Chinese invasion. A paper published in 2021 by the US Army War College suggested the US and Taiwan should plan “scorched-earth” tactics that could render Taiwan “not just unattractive if ever seized by force, but positively costly to maintain.”
The paper said the tactic could be done “most effectively by threatening to destroy facilities belonging to the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the most important chipmaker in the world and China’s most important supplier.”
Bloomberg reported in October 2022 that there are “some former officials with ties to the Pentagon want the Biden administration to devise” a plan to destroy Taiwan’s chip factories.
The Biden administration has been taking action against China’s semiconductor industry by blocking exports of advanced technology needed to produce advanced chips. The US is also rallying allies to join in on the sanctions and got the Netherlands also to restrict exports of semiconductor technology.