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Taiwan premier defends decision to allow chipmakers to upgrade technology at China plants

Taiwan premier defends decision to allow chipmakers to upgrade technology at China plants

Taiwan's premier on Saturday defended his Cabinet's decision to allow Taiwanese chipmakers with factories in mainland China to make more advanced chips than they currently produce.
Premier Su Tseng-chang was rebuffing critics who have said that upgrading production at Chinese plants could result in China, Taiwan's political rival, getting its hands on the advanced technologies involved.
Taiwan's Cabinet said Friday that it will allow Taiwanese chip manufacturers to produce chips on which the smallest electronic component can be just 0.18 microns wide _ an advance on current chips produced by Taiwanese companies on the mainland whose smallest components are 0.25 microns wide. One micron is one millionth of a meter.
Switching to 0.18 micron technology means that manufacturers can squeeze more electronic components onto a chip, giving computers more computing power while requiring less energy.
Taiwan strictly controls chipmakers' investments in mainland China, with companies required to apply for permission before going ahead with such deals.
Former President Lee Teng-hui and some lawmakers condemned the move, fearing that China may one day use the technology against Taiwan.
More than five decades after Taiwan and China split amid civil war, Beijing still threatens to use force against the democratic island if it moves to formalize its de facto independence.
But Su, the island's No. 3 leader, said the change will help Taiwanese chipmakers better compete in China and overseas.
Taiwan chipmakers already produce even more advanced 0.09 micron chips domestically, but moving 0.18 micron production facilities to the mainland would help Taiwanese companies reduce costs.
"Taiwanese companies can keep their roots in Taiwan and do business all over the world," Su told reporters.
Supporters of closer economic relations with China faulted Su for being too slow.
"The step to open up is right, but it's a bit too late," said Ma Ying-jeou, the leader of the main opposition Nationalists.
The world's biggest contract chipmaker by revenue, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which had applied for use of the more advanced technology at its mainland China plant, welcomed the approval Friday.
Despite the political tension, commercial links between Taiwan and China are booming. Two-way trade last year totaled more than US$60 billion (euro50 billion), and Taiwanese companies have invested an estimated US$100 billion (euro83 billion) in mainland facilities over the past 15 years.


Updated : 2021-06-25 04:41 GMT+08:00