Taiwanese businesses have called for a law on industrial espionage, especially by China, as growing ties have made it easier for Chinese firms to steal secrets, officials and media said yesterday.
Lee Kun-yao (李焜耀), chairman of the flat-panel maker AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達光電), made the appeal while meeting President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) with a group of high-tech entrepreneurs on Wednesday.
The proposal was prompted by a spate of cases involving the theft of business secrets from Taiwan’s high-tech companies, Lee said, without providing details.
“Taiwan really needs such a law now as it faces mounting competition from mainland China,” another official from AU Optronics told reporters.
The idea seemed to be supported by several firms, including Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電).
“Such a law will better help Taiwan’s industry,” TSMC spokeswoman Elizabeth Sun (孫又文) said.
Currently, suspects are indicted on charges such as breach of trust and embezzlement, but Lee said the punishment for such crimes was not enough.
The Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association, which groups the nation’s major electronics firms, also called for a law as early as possible.
TSMC filed a lawsuit against Chinese rival Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯) in the US in 2003, alleging SMIC improperly obtained its trade secrets and infringed patents. In 2005, SMIC agreed to pay TSMC US$175 million to settle the case after the Taiwan chipmaker filed new evidence of corporate espionage with a US court.