Those snarled supply chains have called attention to a bigger and more long-term issue: The United States is dangerously dependent on other countries for computer chips, no matter what they’re going into.
In 1990, 37% of the world’s computer chips were made in the United States. Now only 12% are.
Three-fourths of the world’s chips are now made in Asia for the usual reasons — labor is cheaper there. The biggest makers are, in order, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. But China is coming up fast.
Between 2015 and 2019, China pulled ahead of the U.S. as a chip-maker and appears on a rocket-ride to the top. By some estimates, it aims to control 70% of the market by 2030 — even more if China someday invades Taiwan (which it might well do).
There’s a national security term for this: Not good.
This has led to a bipartisan push to develop a bigger semiconductor industry in the United States.
Just a few weeks ago, we wrote about how two former congressmen with a long interest in technology issues — Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Roanoke County, and Rick Boucher, a Democrat from Abingdon — had authored a commentary in USA Today making the case for Congress to fund more semiconductor research.
Guess what? That’s now happened — or, more accurately, it’s happened in the Senate. The House still needs to follow suit.
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