US China-U.S. trade war turns to headhunting

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War is hell

The China-U.S. trade war is pushing Beijing to step up its efforts to steal technology and poach talent from Taiwan to boost China’s semiconductor industry’s self-sufficiency.

Washington has taken aim at China’s tech industry during the bitter trade dispute, putting sanctions on firms including telecoms equipment giant Huawei, saying they are a threat to national security, angering Beijing.

Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua told a parliamentary committee meeting the trade war had created new risks.

“Affected by the U.S.-China technology war, the development of mainland China’s semiconductor industry has been obstructed, but they are still committed to the industry’s development,” she said.

“To achieve self-sufficiency in the supply chain, poaching and infiltration are the quickest way for mainland China to do this,” Wang added.

Taiwan’s chip workers have deep experience and speak the same language, meaning they are a “natural target for poaching China has latched onto”, she added.

Hu Mu-yuan, deputy head of Taiwan’s National Security Bureau, said China’s efforts were a threat to not just Taiwan but Japan and South Korea, threatening global trade and fair competition.

“Moreover, the Chinese communists are stealing other countries intellectual property to boost their power,” he added.

Taiwan has strict laws to try and prevent this from happening, but officials have warned China tries to skirt them by setting up front companies on the island, using Taiwanese headhunters and other methods.

“Preventing Taiwan’s key technology and high-tech personnel from being infiltrated by the ‘red supply chain’ has become an important task to protect our industry’s competitiveness and ensure our economic security,” Hu said.