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If the US entered a war (not a trade war, but a real one) against China, how could it guarantee a supply of computers, microchips, and IT in general (that are essential for the whole infrastructure). In other words, how much is the US dependent of IT supplies from China? Does the US have contingency plans when it comes to IT supplies and infrastructure?

Or, is the US and China beyond this point and both recognize that they will have interlaced interests and, therefore, dismiss the possibility of a war? In the same way that France-Germany won't enter a war, since their economies are too interdependent.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Time4Tea, Jimmy M., Rupert Morrish, bytebuster, user2501323 May 13 at 8:08

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    All I can say is "Never get involved in a land war in Asia" – Frank Cedeno May 6 at 12:18
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    Luckily all the hardware for the US nuclear arsenal was built in the 1970s and will never be upgraded, protecting it from Chinese malware. – IllusiveBrian May 6 at 13:08
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    Even if the US does have contingency plans, they will most likely be highly classified and not published publicly. Therefore, I'm not sure this question can really be answered. I will VTC as opinion based, as nobody can know this. – Time4Tea May 6 at 19:26
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    @FrankCedeno "Never get involved in a land war in Asia" — unless you are the Mongols. They are the exception. – James K May 6 at 20:49
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    @JamesK - No, they're the reason you don't do it. – Obie 2.0 May 7 at 0:11
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It's hard to know what the US would do for sure, they likely wouldn't publish the details of any contingency plans after all. However, as someone with some IT knowledge I can make some informed guesses about what will likely happen.

As implied by Brythan answer there are other resources for getting IT supplies other then China. Yes China is a large provider of resources, but they are not the only one. The US could start importing their supplies from other sources, including ones already located within the US. The supply of these resources would be lower due to the loss of Chinese manufacturing, which would result in raising prices as the lower supply struggles to meet demands; but it's unlikely that we would be at such a shortage that we would be unable to supply resources to critical systems. The US would simply pay more buy the infrastructure resources they need, the annual budget of the US is high enough to trivially handle even the worst case possible price increase caused by lowered supplies. It would be the every day consumers that would suffer more since they would be the ones that would end up feeling the price hike and buying less hardware due to the shortage.

Worse case would be that some infrastructure was dependent on a specific chip only made in China, but even then it's usually possible, if rather expensive, to replace hardware in those cases.

So in short it would be a little more expensive to support most of our infrastructure, as we work with lower supply causing price hikes, and there will be a few much large expenses to move away from any system that uses propitiatory hardware that only China could produce. However, our infrastructure as a whole will likely survive pretty well. Even the increased expenses would be trivial compared to the general war expenses.

To add a bit of further speculation I strongly suspect, though I don't actually know and can't prove it, that none of our really critical infrastructure uses Chinese manufactured hardware anyways. The US is fully aware of the fact that there are foreign agents that want to get access to our infrastructure for malicious reasons, with China being top on that list (Russia being #2). As such the US is likely concerned about manufacturers placing back doors into any hardware they produce and ship to the US for malicious, or espionage, reasons.

Thus I highly suspect all of our really critical hardware, our Nuclear reactors, government systems used by/supporting banking, everything at the NSA or White house, etc. is required to be either made in America or, at the very least, not made by one of the countries that are considered likely to try to hack us. This would be less for fear of the shortages in the case of a war as fear of back door hardware and hacking, but the end result is the same. The most critical systems likely do not depend on any Chinese infrastructure and thus will be no problem to support in the case of a war with China.

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First of all, like you pointed out already the integrated world economy is an extreme deterrent for war between economically significant powers, and any conflict between any of the bigger economies will create an gigantic ripple effect that will almost definitely put the world economy in a global recession.

On the point of supply problems, well, if the Pacific trade collapses because of that war their will most likely be a shortage of certain products, some IT products included, especially some types of transistors and semiconductors.

Keep in mind that no real direct war has taken place between economic important countries in the past decades, so we have to guess to know how the war will look like in the first place.

  • Doesn't seem to really answer the question of whether the US has contingency plans to protect its infrastructure. – Time4Tea May 6 at 20:19
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According to Intel (PDF):

Wafer fabrication or manufacturing of Intel’s microprocessors and chip sets is conducted in the U.S. (Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and Massachusetts)[,] China, Ireland and Israel. Following manufacturing the majority of our components are then assembled and tested at facilities in Malaysia, China, Costa Rica and Vietnam.

So the plan would seem to be to move manufacturing to the US and Costa Rica. With possible assistance from Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

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    I'm not sure a fact sheet from a single manufacturer is indicative of a national-level US government policy. – Time4Tea May 6 at 20:18
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    Many (or all?) of those rely on photolitography machines from ASML. That's a Dutch company (Intel and others have a stake in that too). Not sure where they produce those machines, but cutting off those production plants (i.e. destroy the factories for the machines that make these high-tech chips) would surely be a big setback. – JJJ May 6 at 21:40

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