Fri, Nov 17, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Wu says MAC has an open mind on China

FREE-THINKING?The MAC chairman denied KMT allegations that he had opposed efforts by local chipmakers to set up 8-inch wafer fabs in China

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) holds an "open" attitude toward local chipmakers setting up 8-inch wafer fabs in China and using 0.18-micron manufacturing technology there, MAC Chairman Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said yesterday.

Wu said an actual announcement on the opening would have to wait until the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) worked out the details of the policy.

Wu was responding to questions in a legislative committee meeting during which Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Ting Shou-chung (丁守中) asked if the MAC had gotten in the way of the applications by two local chipmakers -- Powerchip Semiconductor and ProMOS Technologies -- to set up 8-inch wafer fabs in China, as the applications had been made two years ago.

Wu said the MAC had adopted an "open" attitude concerning the matter in accordance with a consensus reached in a national economic development conference earlier this year.

Minister of Economic Affairs Steve Chen (陳瑞隆) recently said that his ministry will make it a priority to process the applications by several Taiwanese chipmakers.

Chen said his ministry is still reviewing the applications for 8-inch wafer fabs in China and that it hopes a conclusion can be reached by the end of this year.

During the session yesterday, Wu also pleaded with pan-blue lawmakers to approve the council's budget for next year for the Chinese Development Fund to promote cross-strait academic exchange.

Wu pitched a budget for next year of NT$40.023 million (US$1.2 million) for the funds in a legislative committee meeting yesterday, saying they were necessary for winning over the hearts and minds of China's elite.

"The Chinese Development Fund is applied toward bringing elite scholars from China to Taiwan for work or study," Wu said, adding that "these people are the future leaders of China."

"This isn't the same as tourism; these academics stay long-term, becoming exposed to our free press and democracy," Wu said.

According to a council budget report, the Chinese Development Fund serves as a source of grants awarded to Chinese scholars conducting research in Taiwan; it also provides assistance to private organizations that promote cross-strait exchanges and can be used to hold cross-strait academic conferences.

People First Party Legislator Feng Ting-kuo (馮定國) asked Wu if he was the CEO of either China Airlines or EVA Airways, both domestic carriers.

"No," Wu replied.

"Oh, I was a bit confused as to whether you were or not, considering that you subsidized them to the tune of NT$30 million with the Chinese Development Fund [this year]," Feng shot back, adding that huge portions of the fund were needlessly spent on "transportation costs" in facilitating cross-strait exchanges.

Feng, along with KMT Legislator Tsao Erh-chung (曹爾忠), told Wu that his failure to establish direct flights was behind the soaring cost of funding cross-strait exchanges that would encourage peace and understanding between China and Taiwan.

If Taiwanese and Chinese visitors could fly to and from China via Kinmen or Matzu, instead of Hong Kong, the council wouldn't have to waste so much money on airfare for beneficiaries of the fund, the lawmakers added.

Ting, meanwhile, said that although he agreed with the fund's raison d'etre, Wu had left the fund and the council's overall budget open to attack by lawmakers by achieving little progress in opening up the country to China. Lawmakers, he added, were prone to freezing the council's budget as "revenge."

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