Mon, Mar 18, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Whip tells DPP to stick to its guns

CNA , TAIPEI

An influential DPP legislator urged the government yesterday not to make any policy about-face simply because of political pressure in addressing chipmakers' China-bound investment plans.

Legislator Wang Tuoh (王拓), also the DPP's legislative whip, made the call after a local newspaper said the government may change its policy on allowing local chipmakers to set up eight-inch wafer foundries on the other side of the Taiwan Strait due to former President Lee Teng-hui's (李登輝) strong opposition.

"Whether the government should open up wafer investment in China needs prudent professional judgment," Wang said. "And once the government comes to a conclusion, it should refrain from making any policy about-turn under political pressure. Nor should it make fundamental policy changes simply because of backlash from certain political figures," Wang said.

The Cabinet is set to unveil its final decision on the issue at the end of this month.

Recent statements made by senior officials, including President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Premier Yu Shyi-kun, indicate that the government would green-light the requests by two local chipmakers -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp (TSMC, 台積電) and United Microelectronics Corp (UMC, 聯電) -- to set up eight-inch wafer foundries in China under a well-designed oversight mechanism.

However, former president Lee, the TSU and several pro-independence groups have been vocal in opposing the proposal in recent weeks on the grounds that such an "open-door" move would undermine Taiwan's global competitiveness and even threaten its national security.

They said that the government should wait until production of more technologically advanced 12-inch wafers becomes widespread in Taiwan before opening up cross-strait eight-inch wafer investment.

In the face of their calls, the Cabinet reportedly is now having second thoughts on the issue and may postpone the new opening measure until next year or even later.

Nevertheless, Wang said the DPP legislative caucus has so far not received any information from the Cabinet about a possible about-turn in its policy.

"My opinion is that since the government has come up with the decision after extensive discussions and a circumspect professional assessment, it should not lightly change its attitude and stance simply because of opposition from certain groups or individual politicians," Wang said.

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