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State Department Official Discusses Chip Shortage, Taiwan Talks, 5G 'Trusted Network'

November 24, 2021

A senior U.S. State Department official said the United States is not asking the world's top chipmakers to provide "trade secrets" in response to a request for supply chain information to help address the global chip shortage.

"We're not asking for information that will be public. It's confidential information that will be kept confidential," said Undersecretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez in an interview with VOA on Tuesday.

"It's intended to do what we need to do, which is to find ways to ease the bottleneck in supply chains."

Fernandez led U.S. participation in the second U.S.-Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue (EPPD), an initiative launched last November, as the United States seeks closer economic ties with Taiwan.

Taiwan is home to the world's largest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Any disruption in Taiwan affecting TSMC production could strain the global supply chain to the snapping point. Many link the survival of this self-ruled democracy to U.S. supply chain security.

Fernandez said TSMC's decision to build a new plant in Japan, which is slated to open in 2024, is a good move that "diversifies" the supply chain locations.

He also confirmed the State Department has changed the name of the Clean Network, an initiative launched during the Trump administration to promote a trusted 5G network supplier while discouraging other nations from using equipment from Chinese telecom Huawei to build theirs. It is now called the Trusted Network.

"I like 'Trusted Network.' It's not a question of cleanliness. It's a question of who do you trust," Fernandez said.

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