The minister of justice warned that Chinese companies have been luring Taiwanese talent with high salaries to steal trade secrets
By Jason Pan / Staff reporter
The Ministry of Justice is to hold a meeting today with representatives of tech firms at the Hsinchu Science Park to counteract Beijing’s efforts to recruit industrial spies and steal technological know-how.
Chinese companies have long targeted Taiwanese tech talent to work in China, but in recent years have arranged for recruits to stay in Taiwan under the pretext of doing research and development, but are actually working as industrial spies, Minister of Justice Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) said during a meeting with reporters on Wednesday.
“Chinese companies offer high salaries through headhunting agencies to entice Taiwanese working in high tech to work as corporate spies, resulting in financial losses for many Taiwanese enterprises and affecting the nation’s economic competitiveness,” he said.
Photo: Wu Cheng-fong, Taipei Times
Prosecutor Huang Chih-chung (黃致中) cited as an example the case of a former engineer at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, who was indicted in 2018 for theft of trade secrets.
The engineer, surnamed Wu (吳), copied trade secrets linked to TSMC’s 28-nanometer process technology with the intention of taking the data with him to China when he took a new job at CSMC Technologies Corp.
Wu, who was charged with breach of trust and contravening the Trade Secrets Act (營業秘密法), was in February found guilty and handed an 18-month suspended sentence by the Hsinchu District Court.
“China’s covert plans to steal trade secrets and commercial proprietary information do not just target Taiwan, but can be found in many nations around the world,” Huang said.
Prosecutors, along with teams from the justice ministry and investigation agencies, are to convene a talk today with high-tech firms at the Hsinchu Science Park, the main information technology cluster in northern Taiwan, the ministry said.
Meetings with firms at other science parks in central and southern Taiwan are to be held in the coming weeks, it added.
Asked for a comment, the Hsinchu Science Park Administration yesterday said that the forum is a regular activity.
About 200 companies based in the park, including TSMC and MediaTek Inc, have applied to participate in the forum, it said.
In addition to the minister of justice, Taiwan High Prosecutors’ Office Chief Prosecutor Hsing Tai-chao (邢泰釗) is to join the forum and provide tips on how to protect corporate trade secrets from theft, it added.
Meanwhile, lawmakers also urged the government to boost information security protection measures.
Military personnel and personnel privy to state secrets should have a better sense of national security, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said.
Infiltration by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would not succeed unless people from the inside cooperate with it, Lo said.
In some cases, money and romance were used to lure people to leak confidential information, and authorities should learn from past cases to anticipate new ploys employed by the CCP, he said.
DPP Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) cited as an example the National Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology’s solicitation of tenders for network-
attachment storage services listing connectivity with China’s Baidu Cloud cloud-based storage service as a prerequisite.
This reflects a sore lack of awareness of Chinese infiltration that pervades government agencies, even one tasked with developing weapons, Wang said.
Information security is not a show you put on for others, he said, urging the institute to check for any information security loopholes by working with the National Security Bureau, the military’s General Staff for Communication, Electronics and Information, and the Executive Yuan’s National Information and Communication Security Taskforce.
Additional reporting by Lisa Wang and Wu Su-wei
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