Fri, Mar 08, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Lee speaks out against investment plan

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said yesterday that national security and Taiwan's interests should be considered before deciding whether the government should lift a ban on Taiwanese companies investing in eight-inch chipmaking plants in China.

The Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) will propose next Tuesday at the legislature to postpone the relaxation of the restriction.

They said approval for building eight-inch wafer plants in China should be delayed until 12-inch wafer technology is more mature.

Heated debate has been taking place in political and industrial circles over whether the government will allow Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) and United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) -- the world's largest and second-largest contract chipmakers repectively -- to set up shop in China. A decision is expected by the end of this month.

During his visit yesterday to a technology company in Taoyuan, Lee warned Taiwanese businessmen not to focus their investments in China on the grounds that they may be sacrificed in the event China attacks Taiwan.

Ever critical of growing "China fever" among industrial tycoons, Lee said he was apprehensive about their excessive reliance on the Chinese market.

According to Lee, investment in China accounts for 19.6 percent of the country's total investment overseas, and called on businessmen not to put "all their eggs in one basket."

Lee said the Chinese government has never retracted its threat to take Taiwan by force, and that because of this, Taiwanese businessmen should put Taiwan's interests and national security above their own financial interests.

Lee also said that when prominent businessmen speak out in favor of China, the end result is to undermine Taiwan's sovereignty.

The TSU will raise a motion at the legislature next Tuesday to persuade the government to postpone the request.

TSU lawmaker Lin Chih-lung (林志隆) said that Taiwan will lose its competitiveness, talent and capital if the two leading chipmaking manufacturers are permitted to invest in China.

He said it took Taiwan 25 years to develop such state-of-the-art technology, and that it would be to the nation's extreme disadvantage to give away Taiwan's collective wisdom and finest products to a rival.

Lin said the demand should be postponed until 12-inch chipmaking technology is mature,

The successful rate for 12-inch wafer production is only 50 percent, while that of eight-inch wafers reaches 95 percent, Lin said.

He added that what Taiwan will lose is not just chipmaking plants, but through a domino effect, packing and testing facilities will also have to move to China.

"One of the company managers at the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park told me that the industrial park will be a `dead city' if TSMC and UMC are permitted to construct factories in China," the lawmaker said.

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