Science: Taiwan Acts to Protect Its Chip Supremacy

The Story:

An investigative unit of the government of Taiwan, earlier this month, launched a probe into about 100 companies headquartered in the People’s Republic of China, which it suspects of illegally poaching its semiconductor chip engineers and other top tech talent, Reuters reported.


Taiwan calls itself the “Republic of China.” The mainland of China, with its government in Beijing, calls itself the “People’s Republic of China” (PRC). The split dates to the Chinese civil war, when Mao and the communists took over the mainland, and the Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek retreated across the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan is home to TSMC, one of the world’s most valuable semiconductor design and manufacturing concerns. It ‘breakaway province’ possesses expertise in the field, and the PRC badly wants that, not only for obvious economic reasons but to advance its geopolitical stature as well.

Strange New Worlds:

It is not illegal for PRC firms to hire Taiwanese engineers. But Taiwanese law makes it very difficult for PRC based firms to operate on the Chinese mainland, so hiring them away means persuading them to relocate to the mainland.  Most engineers prefer to quality of life on Taiwan. The PRC, then, has resorted to subterfuge  to operate illegally on Taiwan while pretending to be a local company, and having the local shell company hire the Taiwanese engineers. The flow of information and expertise is still across the Straits. That is the illegal poaching, and the threat, now under investigation.

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