iPhone and Mac chipmaker TSMC can disable its factories should China invade Taiwan amid ongoing tensions between the two countries

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TSMC is a key supply chain partner and is responsible for the chips that power Apple's best products including the recently released M4 iPad Pro and M2 iPad Air. It's also a company that works with countless others, including producing chips that are capable of AI workloads and sensitive military applications. For that reason, the US is concerned about what might happen should China choose to invade TSMC's home country of Taiwan. The chipmaker has a plan, though.

According to a new report TSMC and ASML, the Dutch company that produces the machines it uses to create some of its most advanced chips, are able to remotely disable the machines should the need arise.

What's more, it's reported that simulations have already been run should an invasion begin in order to allow everyone to better understand what's required and any potential risks. Those risks are likely to include sensitive information finding its way into the hands of the Chinese government, something that the US would rather avoid for obvious reasons.

Remote shut-off

Bloomberg reports that concerns have already been raised about what might happen should China's persistent aggression turn into action. China sees Taiwan as its own, and while no invasion has explicitly been threatened it's also something that has yet to be ruled out.

TSMC and ASML have plans should such a situation arise, however.

"The remote shut-off applies to Netherlands-based ASML’s line of extreme ultraviolet machines, known within the industry as EUVs, for which TSMC is its single biggest client," Bloomberg explains. "EUVs harness high-frequency light waves to print the smallest microchip transistors in existence — creating chips that have artificial-intelligence uses as well as more sensitive military applications."

Apple has previously sought to diversify its reliance on production in China as a result of never-ending trade tensions between the country and the US, while problematic a COVID-19 response and subsequent lockdowns caused iPhone supply shortages, among other things. Now, it seems that Taiwan's production of chips could also be a problem for Apple and others moving forward. Bloomberg reports that US officials have already warned that China intends to be capable of invading Taiwan by 2027.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.