Closer cross-strait economic ties have made protection of sensitive technology a forgotten issue in Taiwanese politics, academics said yesterday in a forum.
While the lack of talent has become a hot topic after government officials issued warnings, the real crisis for Taiwan is the exodus of talent and the outflow of sensitive technology, in particular to China, said Wu Rong-i (吳榮義), chairman of the Taiwan Brain Trust, the organizer of the forum.
All major economies in the world value the protection of their technology and high-tech professionals, Wu said, adding that regulation and monitoring have been lacking in Taiwan, especially after the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) returned to power in 2008.
The pro-China KMT adopted loose regulation to the high-tech companies’ investment in China, making the talent exodus and leaking of sensitive technology points for concern, Wu said.
Lo Cheng-chung (羅承宗), a professor at the Chungyu Institute of Technology, said that the outflow of Taiwan’s agricultural expertise, including professionals, seeds and technology to China, could be disastrous and jeopardize development and global competitiveness of Taiwan’s agriculture in the foreseeable future.
China has established cross-strait agricultural experimental zones since 2006 to attract Taiwanese professionals and investment, he said, adding that while the government did introduce regulations on the bilateral exchange, the regulations stipulate no punishments.
A draft of a sensitive technology protection act was proposed during the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration in 2008, but it has been forgotten in the past four years, Lo said.
“Talent and technology are the backbone of Taiwan’s status and the protection of these assets would reassure our global competitiveness,” said Max Lo (羅正方), former general manager of Aerospace Industrial Development Corp.
In terms of the talent exodus, Lo said it was not a legitimate concern because technology will always be moving forward and, with Taiwanese people’s emphasis on education, talent shortage would not be a concern.
The concerns lie in Taiwan’s job market and industrial environment, he said, adding that a relaxed immigration policy and industrial upgrade are important factors to resolve the short-term problems.
Former Council of Economic Planning and Development minister Chen Po-chih (陳博志) also brushed off the perception that Taiwan lacks professionals and talent, which he said was a vague and short-sighted opinion originating in a column published by Watchinese magazine.
“A country would never say it has enough talent because it always needs more. Therefore the real questions to ask are: First, do we offer reasonable compensation but still could not find talent? Second, which kind of talent can’t we find?” he said.
The real problem for Taiwan, Chen said, was not talent shortage but the inability to keep Taiwanese professionals in Taiwan.