Taiwan Raids Chinese Companies, R&D Centres Suspected of Poaching Chip Engineers Illegally

Taiwan authorities have raided 10 Chinese companies suspected of poaching chip engineers and other technical talent this week, the island’s investigation bureau said Thursday, in the latest crackdown on Chinese companies to protect their edge over chips.

Home to chip maker giant TSMC that accounts for the majority of the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing capacity, Taiwan has intensified an anti-poaching campaign by Chinese companies in what the island sees as a threat to its chip expertise.

The bureau said it raided 10 Chinese companies or their research and development centers operating in Taiwan without consent earlier this week. It said nearly 70 people were summoned for questioning in a joint campaign involving several cities including the capital, Taipei, and the island’s semiconductor hub, Hsinchu.

“The illegal hunting of high-tech talents in Taiwan by Chinese companies has severely affected our international competitiveness and endangered our national security,” the office said in a statement.

She said technology is vital to Taiwan’s security and urged people to “remain on high alert” for such Chinese activities.

The bureau did not name the companies currently being investigated, adding that they include integrated circuit design firms and electronics parts makers.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office did not respond to Reuters’ requests for comment on the case.

A senior bureau official told Reuters last month that the investigation bureau had launched investigations with about 100 Chinese companies suspected of poaching tech talent.

China’s scramble for engineering talent in chips has intensified amid Beijing’s goal of achieving self-reliance in advanced chips, especially after the trade war with the former Trump administration in the United States.

Taiwanese law prohibits Chinese investment in some parts of the semiconductor supply chain, including chip design, and requires reviews for other areas such as chip packaging, making it very difficult for Chinese chip companies to operate on the island legally.

In March, the bureau raided eight Chinese companies with the aim of countering what it said were the “illegal activities of the Chinese Communist Party of talent grabbing and secret theft.”

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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