ASML Prepared to Disable Its Advanced Equipment in Taiwan in Case of China’s Invasion

Taiwan, the home to more than 90% of the world’s advanced lithography chip production, has been equipped with over 200 scanners by ASML since 2016, many of which are currently operational. The company has confessed to U.S. officials that in case of a Chinese invasion, their Taiwanese-installed equipment could be remotely disabled.

Bloomberg notes that consultations between American officials and representatives of the Netherlands and Taiwan have taken place, focusing on the potential consequences of a military seizure of the island by China. ASML reassured its American partners, asserting that they could remotely shutdown their EUV lithographic equipment utilised on the island. The company has conducted exercises simulating their actions in the event of a Taiwanese takeover, to validate this claim.

ASML seems to maintain access to its exported equipment via global communication channels. This allows it to diagnose emerging technical malfunctioning and perform adjustments post-installation at a client’s enterprise. Consequently, in the face of serious danger, ASML could disrupt the software managing the equipment, rendering it unusable. However, this information was not verified by representatives of either the U.S. or Netherlands, nor by ASML and TSMC employees, as indicated in Bloomberg’s report.

Mark Liu, Chairman of TSMC’s board, confirmed last year that the company is also prepared to resort to deliberate sabotage. In his words, invaders would find their facilities inoperable. As TSMC’s president pointed out, no one can forcefully take over the company.

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