Tue, Feb 26, 2019 - Page 14 News List

Taiwanese companies thrown to wolves in China
中國卸磨殺驢

Micron Technology Inc’s headquarters building in California, US.
位於美國加州,美光科技的總部辦公室。

Photo: AP
照片:美聯社

On Nov. 1, the US Justice Department initiated a lawsuit against China’s state-owned Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co, Taiwan-based United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) and three Taiwanese individuals for allegedly conspiring to steal trade secrets from US semiconductor company Micron Technology. According to foreign media reports, UMC, which assisted Fujian Jinhua in developing DRAM technology, could be fined a maximum of US$20 billion. However, at a press conference on Jan. 29, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei made the surprising statement that Fujian Jinhua does not possess its own technology and argued that UMC should be held responsible for any disputes concerning technology. Miao also said that Fujian Jinhua was an innocent party in the matter.

The minister’s comments raise two important points. First, although China does not currently possess semiconductor technology, it is looking to develop its own semiconductor industry. Beijing is obtaining this technology by several means, including buying up foreign companies, industrial espionage and using Taiwanese businesses or Taiwanese spies. Secondly, Beijing, as it so often does, disposes of Taiwanese companies once they cease to be useful, tossing them to one side and then pushing them under a bus to evade liability.

It just so happened that, on the very day that Miao was speaking, foreign media reported that the US Justice Department was considering dropping criminal charges against UMC and instead levying a large fine. The following day, Chinese officials moved to shift the blame onto UMC, potentially complicating matters for the latter, which might no longer be able to get away with simply paying the fine.

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. semiconductor n.

半導體 (ban4 dao2 ti3)

2. toss ... to one side phr.

一腳踢開 (yi1 jiao3 ti1 kai1)

3. shift the blame phr.

卸責 (xie4 ze2)

4. increasingly adv.

與日俱增 (yu3 ri4 ju4 zeng1)

5. leading position phr.

領先地位 (ling3 xian1 di4 wei4)

6. serve as a warning phr.

殷鑑不遠 (yin1 jian4 bu4 yuan3)


China’s treatment of Taiwanese businesses as disposable assets is nothing new. One wonders how many Taiwanese companies, large and small, have been buried alive, their factories snatched away, their markets seized, their capital or technology stolen, and even guarantees of personal safety removed. Before, Taiwanese businesses favored China for its low production costs; now, they are bullish about the massive size of China’s market, and are still investing in the country.

However the US-China trade war has now been upgraded to a “technology war.” As Taiwan’s semiconductor industry becomes increasingly reliant on the Chinese market, Taiwanese companies are placing themselves at an ever greater risk of being dragged into the war. Moreover, China is using Taiwanese businesses to obtain the technology it needs. If this causes Taiwan to lose its leading position in semiconductor technology, it will cause severe damage to Taiwanese industry and the national interest. The UMC case should serve as a warning. Taiwanese businesses should cautiously assess the situation and ask themselves whether they are willing to run the risk of becoming the next sacrificial lamb.

(Translated by Edward Jones, Taipei Times)

美國司法部去年十一月一日起訴中國福建晉華、台灣聯電及三名台灣人共謀竊取美光科技商業機密;外媒報導,協助福建晉華開發DRAM的聯電,可能涉及最高兩百億美元的罰款。然而,中國工信部長苗圩今年一月二十九日在記者會竟表示:「晉華本身並沒有技術,如果要說有技術的爭議,也應該是台灣聯電來負責,福建晉華是無辜的。」

中國工信部長的說法點出兩個重點,其一,中國即使沒有技術也要發展半導體產業,因此透過收購外企、竊取商業機密、利用台商或台諜等方式獲取技術;其二,中國對台商仍採取一貫的「卸磨殺驢」手段,利用完了就一腳踢開,出了事就推卸責任。

巧合的是,就在苗圩發言前一天,外媒報導,美國司法部可能改採鉅額罰款的方式,放棄對聯電的刑事指控。隔日,中國官方就出現卸責聯電的說法,可能讓聯電繳納罰款脫身出現變數。

事實上,中國對台商「卸磨殺驢」由來已久,過去不知多少大大小小台商遭中國坑殺,工廠被奪走、商場遭強佔、資金或技術被竊取,甚至人身安全都不保;但台商過去看上中國低廉生產成本,現在則看上中國龐大市場,仍然不斷「錢進中國」。

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