Taiwan`s spy catchers have launched probes into around 100 Chinese companies suspected of illegally poaching semiconductor engineers and other tech talent, a senior official at the island`s Investigation Bureau told.
That comes on top of seven prosecuted since the start of last year and includes 27 which have either been raided or whose owners have been summoned for questioning by the bureau, the official said.
Home to industry giant TSMC and accounting for 92% of the world`s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing capacity, Taiwan possesses what China needs – chip expertise in spades.
A global chip shortage and Beijing`s avowed goal of achieving self-reliance in advanced chips – more forcefully promoted by Chinese President Xi Jinping after a trade war with the former Trump administration – has only intensified the scramble for engineering talent.
Taiwan responded with the creation in December 2020 of a task force within the justice ministry`s Investigation Bureau – its main spy catching organisation – to tackle poaching.
Cases where it has taken action with raids or questioning represented “the tip of the iceberg”, the official said, asking to remain anonymous so that investigations are not impeded.
The Investigation Bureau said the official`s comments represented its views.
Heightened military pressure from China, which claims Taiwan as its territory, has only strengthened Taipei`s determination to protect its chip supremacy – an asset also strategically important to the United States as much of its chip manufacturing is outsourced to the island.