China has always strived to develop its semiconductor industry, once paying 2 to 3 times higher wages to recruit a large number of Taiwanese engineers to work across the strait. However, as reported by the The New York Times, due to Chinese regime’s pandemic restrictions and the impact of the U.S.-China technology war, these talents gradually returned to Taiwan.
China has actively sought out Taiwanese semiconductor engineers for many years. Taiwan’s Commercial Times reported that the Taiwan Economic Research Institute estimated that as many as 3,000 Taiwanese semiconductor engineers worked in China in 2019, accounting for nearly 10% of the 40,000 core engineers of China’s semiconductor industry. A 40-year-old engineer surnamed Li, who once served TSMC, revealed in an interview that, in 2018, he was attracted by the high salaries of Chinese semiconductor manufacturers and and the opportunity to travel around to discover new technology, so he moved to Northeast China to work. But recently, due to the increasingly tense international situation, he and other senior Taiwanese engineers returned home.
Li revealed that he used to feel like he was just a cog in a big wheel at TSMC, coming to work in China was like flying. He also mentioned the advantages of working in Taiwan, including not having to worry about the government arbitrarily shutting down the company.
The New York Times said that the regime’s strict pandemic measures, along with rising cross-strait tensions, and the U.S.-China technology war, have caused many Taiwanese engineers to return to Taiwan. In addition, in order to prevent local engineers from bringing trade secrets to the other side (China), the Taiwanese government has begun to institute restrictive regulations.
Last year, Taiwan issued a rule that Taiwan’s headhunters are not allowed to post jobs in China’s semiconductor industry, and since last year. Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice has also set up a task force and ordered a crackdown on many Chinese companies operating in Taiwan. More than 40 headhunting and secret theft cases have been prosecuted. According to the report, with the development of China’s semiconductor industry, Taiwan has begun to stop the brain drain.