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United Daily News: When 'baby' leaves home, it's time to be concerned

United Daily News: When 'baby' leaves home, it's time to be concerned

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) announced a few days ago that it will set up a 12-inch wafer plant in China to make chips on the advanced 16-nanometer process. The company said 7 percent of its orders are from China, a market that accounts for 17 percent of its total revenue. It predicted that those numbers will only increase in the future.

After some consideration, TSMC finally decided to give in to China's wooing and go there. Compared to China's big market, low labor costs, speedy review of applications to set up factories, and abundant human resources, Taiwan obviously is a less attractive location.

TSMC's technology goes beyond assembling and manufacturing computers. It requires intricate intellectual property protection and involves business secrets and strategic layout of technology specifications.

For TSMC, China's biggest disadvantage is its high employee turnover rate and unreliable intellectual property protection. In contrast, these are the strengths and assets of Taiwan. This is why TSMC has delayed its plans for a 12-inch wafer plant in China until now, even though Taiwan's computer foundries left for China 20 years ago.

People with insight know that the last two fortresses of Taiwan's high-tech industry are TSMC's wafer foundry service and MediaTek's chip design technology. It is worrying that TSMC is giving up its stance.

Taiwan's vice premier and Cabinet spokesperson have both voiced support for TSMC's decision to set up a 12-inch wafer plant in China, saying that the company's decision is in line with Taiwan's national strategy. Those comments are lamentable.

If Taiwan did indeed have a respectable national strategy for its economic development, our industrial transformation would not have been so unproductive, our economic growth would not have dropped to 1 percent or zero percent, and our wages would not have been frozen for so long.

In addition, our companies would not have relocated overseas at such a high rate and our brain drain would not have increased. If all big players like TSMC choose to invest overseas instead of in Taiwan, what will sustain Taiwan's economic momentum?

TSMC and MediaTek are Taiwan's last two "babies." Our babies are leaving home to find happiness. Meanwhile, the Taiwanese people are hoping that the government will develop a strategic vision for our economic development, instead of waiting for Taiwan's industrial sector to be hit by the "empty nest" syndrome. (Editorial abstract - Dec. 10, 2015) (By Christie Chen)

Updated : 2021-09-26 10:34 GMT+08:00