Democrats Raise National Security Concerns Over Proposed Taiwanese Factory in Arizona

Logo sign outside of TSMC plant

By Jessica Swarner

May 20, 2020

The $12 billion plant is expected to create 1,600 jobs in Arizona. 

Democratic senators are raising national security concerns over a Taiwanese company that recently announced plans to build a $12 billion plant in Arizona. 

Many people have been celebrating the announcement as an economic win for the state. The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) facility in Phoenix would create 1,600 high-tech jobs and begin production in 2024.

Gov. Doug Ducey thanked United Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr. and President Donald Trump for their involvement in the deal, saying he was “incredibly proud” to have TSMC in Arizona. 

“TSMC could have picked any place in the world to build this advanced manufacturing factory,” the Republican governor said in a press release. “They chose Arizona for our unbeatable business climate, already thriving tech sector and ready access to an international supply chain.”

Ducey said factors such as a skilled workforce, commitment to innovation, and quality of life led TSMC to choose Arizona as its next place to manufacture semiconductor wafers.

Republican Sen. Martha McSally echoed Ducey’s praise. She said the deal is “fantastic news” for Arizona and the U.S. but “bad news” for China because it loosens the country’s hold on the market.

Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema also commended the deal.

However, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and two other Democratic lawmakers – Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island – have questions for President Donald Trump’s administration concerning the plan.

TSMC is a major supplier for Chinese-based technology company Huawei, which was placed on a U.S. trading blacklist last year due to concerns it posed a national security risk to the U.S.  

In a letter to Secretary Ross and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the congressmen asked that the administration disclose the addressing of security measures and any tax breaks or subsidies given to TSMC to come to the U.S. 

“We have serious questions as to how this project takes into consideration national security requirements and how it aligns with a broader strategy for building a diverse U.S. semiconductor manufacturing supply chain,” the letter stated. 

The senators also said while they supported the effort to bring more manufacturing on-shore, they urged the government officials to put more focus on companies that “already have built a significant presence in the U.S. and [have] been through a rigorous security screening process.”

The Taiwanese business has run a manufacturing facility in Camas, Washington, since 1998, and also operates design centers in Austin, Texas, and San Jose, California. The Phoenix facility would be the company’s second for manufacturing in the U.S. 

For now, however, the congressmen are asking that the U.S. cease negotiations with TSMC until the authorities behind the deal share more details on the plan with “the relevant authorization and appropriations committees.”

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.



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