Taiwan govt accuses semiconductor recruiters of illegally poaching talent for Chinese company, raids their offices
Taipei : Taiwanese authorities have raided the offices of two companies, accusing them of breaking the law by poaching local chip talent for a mainland Chinese artificial intelligence (AI) chip maker, South China Morning Post reported.
The raid was conducted at the offices of WiseCore Technology and IC Link, recruitment companies that have headhunted hundreds of chip experts over the past three years through a joint venture with a mainland Chinese chip maker, the prosecutors' office in the New Taipei district said on Tuesday.
According to the report, a total of 19 people were brought in for questioning for breaching the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, a law designed to protect the interests of the self-ruled island, including those of its hi-tech industry.
The individuals are being questioned for breaking rules that govern mainland investment into Taiwan's chip industry, which requires permission from Taiwan's Investment Commission.
The semiconductor industry is the pillar of Taiwan's economy. It contributes 15 per cent of total GDP in 2020, while it is a weak link in mainland China's hi-tech supply chain.
China's chipmaking champion, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC), has poached engineering staff from Taiwan over the years, and SMIC's co-chief executive Liang Mong Song and vice-chairman Chiang Shang-yi are both former executives from Taiwan's biggest chipmaker TSMC.
"In view of the fact that mainland China is actively attracting Taiwan's semiconductor talent with high salaries, hi-tech talent and technology protection have become an important issue of national economic policy," the Taipei district prosecutor's office said in its statement, adding that the Ministry of Justice aims to strengthen investigations into relevant cases.
China is aware of the importance of local talent cultivation, but the "fastest way to achieve self-reliance" in its domestic supply chain is to "vigorously poach talented people from Taiwan", said Arisa Liu, a research fellow at the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research.
"Mainland China has the state-backed China Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund, and plenty of private investment funds," she said. "Taiwan must be prepared, especially at a time when the supply chain is undergoing a restructuring amid the US-China technology rivalry."
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing. (ANI)