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Democracy & Technology Blog Silicon Wars

Richard Chang, founder and CEO of SMIC, the top new silicon “fab” on the Chinese mainland, plans to give up his Taiwanese citizenship after Taiwan fined him for an “illegal investment” in SMIC in 2000. At a time when most Taiwanese and Chinese recognize and welcome closer ties and more economic integration, there are still many politicians on both sides who stubbornly insist on looking backward. It seems unwise for Taiwan to drive away key people like Richard Chang, who, even though he now operates on the mainland, still can be a friend and benefactor of Taiwan through all sorts of cooperative economic and technological arrangements. I think this is just a blip on a large radar screen showing mostly better, not worse, China-Taiwan relations, but with the semiconductor industry such a national point of pride for Taiwan and increasingly important to the Chinese, too, it could be a flashpoint of sorts. We will watch closely.

-Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson is a Senior Fellow at Seattle's Discovery Institute, where he researches technology and economics and contributes to the Disco-Tech blog. He is currently writing a book on the abundance of the world economy, focusing on the Chinese boom and developing a new concept linking economics and information theory. Swanson writes frequently for the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal on topics ranging from broadband communications to monetary policy.