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Taiwan’s tech protection measures prioritize chip industry’s growth

Taiwan’s new core technologies list will not affect its chip companies’ business, Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said on Wednesday, after the government unveiled 22 technologies that it identified as needing “urgent protection”.

Taiwan makes the majority of the world’s most advanced semiconductor chips, used in everything from smartphones to electric vehicles, and the government has long worried about Chinese efforts to copy its success, including through industrial espionage and poaching engineers.

The list of 22 protected technologies announced by Taiwan’s top science agency on Tuesday spanned five sectors: defence, space, agriculture, semiconductors, and information security.

The government had discussed including 14-nanometre or more advanced chip manufacturing and packaging technologies with relevant companies, Wang said, without naming any of the firms.

Taiwan is home to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest contract chipmaker and supplier to companies including Apple and Nvidia.

“Manufacturers believe that their business will not be affected,” she told reporters.

Business secrets of the key technologies will be protected through the National Security Act, Wang said.

Employees will have to receive approval before going to China if more than half of the technology’s funding came from government subsidies. Companies will be notified after an inventory of such technologies is taken, she said.

The list “aims to ensure national security and industrial competitiveness, strengthen protection of business secrets involving national core and key technologies, and avoid illegal outflows abroad that may infringe on national and industrial interests,” the National Science and Technology Council said.

The list has been submitted to parliament and is expected to undergo a review in three months, the agency said.

Taiwan already has strict rules on chip exports to and investments in China, which is rushing to develop its own advanced semiconductor industry in the face of mounting U.S. export controls to stymie that progress.

The Biden administration in October said it plans to halt shipments to China of more advanced artificial intelligence chips designed by Nvidia (NVDA.O) and others.

Taiwan’s government, which needs to clear all outbound investments, prohibits semiconductor companies from building their most advanced factories in China to ensure they do not site their best technology offshore. Reuters

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