Taiwan blocks agents from recruiting for mainland China in crackdown on China’s chip talent poaching

Taiwan’s chip industry is highly developed. Washington wants to work with the government of the Republic of China to curb Communist China’s technological ambitions.

Taiwan has instructed human resources firms to remove all job listings for employees hired by Chinese companies, a major move to prevent the flow of key technical talent to the mainland amid rising cross-strait tensions.

According to the notice seen by Nikkei Asia, Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor said all Taiwanese and foreign human resources firms operating in Taiwan are no longer allowed to post information about recruiting from mainland China, especially for positions involving key industries such as integrated circuits and semiconductors.

Meanwhile, Beijing is working to build up the mainland’s semiconductor industry, a goal that exacerbates the demand for Taiwanese engineers.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor said in a circular that “China (the Communist Party of China) has become more aggressive in poaching top Taiwanese chip talent to help its own self-sufficiency as a result of geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China, which has hampered semiconductor development.”

Recruitment platforms and headhunters are not allowed to help or represent any company to hire individuals to work in mainland China, the report said. Violators will be subject to fines from government agencies.

The Labor Ministry circular said, “If the recruitment involves semiconductors and integrated circuits, the fines will be higher.”

New rules apply to cross-strait companies and foreign companies

In a letter Wednesday, 104 Manpower Bank, Taiwan’s largest recruitment platform, told clients, “Please close your job vacancies regarding China as soon as possible to avoid violating the law.”

104 Manpower Bank confirmed to Nikkei Asian Review that it was contacting customers separately by email and phone to help them avoid violating the rules. The platform said job openings in China had been cut in half, from 3,774 to 1,872 vacancies, as of Thursday night.

A spokesman for the platform said, “We do not anticipate an impact on us, but this may affect companies seeking talent on the platform as there is not enough grace period to enforce these new rules.”

Taiwan’s Ministry of Labor did not respond to Nikkei Asian Review’s request for comment as of the date of the article.

The new rules apply not only to mainland Chinese and foreign companies, but also to companies in Taiwan, such as iPhone assemblers Foxconn and PEGATRON, which have large production bases in China.

A spokesman for the 104 Manpower Bank said companies like Foxconn “must also first remove all job listings from their platforms before putting them back under their Chinese subsidiaries, which have been approved by the Taiwan Investment Commission to operate in China.”

The Chinese Communist Party has long coveted Taiwan’s sophisticated semiconductor supply chain, hoping to recruit talent to accelerate Beijing’s technological progress. Communist state-backed chip companies such as Jinan, China’s Quanxin Integrated Circuit Manufacturing (QXIC) and Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor (HSMC) have poached more than 100 employees from TSMC, the world’s top chipmaker.

Chinese smartphone makers Xiaomi and Oppo have recruited semiconductor veterans from Taiwan’s MediaTek, the world’s second-largest mobile chip developer. Nikkei Asian Review reported earlier that Luxshare-ICT, China’s largest contract electronics maker, which hopes to one day challenge Foxconn, has also taken on talent from Foxconn and Catcher Technology.

Taiwan professor: manpower agencies and manpower banks are also channels for Chinese talent hunting in Taiwan

Taiwan’s chip industry is very developed. Washington wants to work with the ROC government to curb the Chinese Communist Party’s technological ambitions.

The Epoch Times previously reported that Chinese companies are suffering from a chip shortage due to U.S. technology sanctions and have set their sights on Taiwan’s semiconductor talent. According to an investigation announced by Taiwan’s prosecutors on March 9, China’s Bitmainland, which designs chips for bitcoin miners, set up “Smart IGS” and “Core Road” in Taiwan through its subsidiaries in 2017 without permission from Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs. “Core Road” in Taiwan without the permission of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

According to the investigation, the two companies offered more than two times higher salaries to poach Taiwanese engineers to produce AI chips for the Chinese parent company. According to statistics, more than 200 Taiwanese engineers have been poached in three years from major Taiwanese semiconductor companies such as MediaTek, Sun and Moon, and TSMC. The people involved in the case have been interviewed by the prosecutor.

Wu Jianzhong, an assistant professor at the Center for Liberal Studies at Taipei Ocean University of Technology who is familiar with the Chinese Communist Party’s infiltration of education in Taiwan, has compiled several common modes of red supply chain poaching of Taiwanese talent, including: industry-academia cooperation with schools, holding cross-strait creative competitions, or talent hunting through manpower banks and headhunters, and even holding open calls for talent.

Wu Jianzhong said that manpower agencies and manpower banks are also channels for the Chinese side to hunt talents in Taiwan. He said that such headhunting companies will target groups, recruit first-class technological talents, and conduct focused recruitment, which will also make it more difficult for the government to review. Last month’s case of “IGS” and “Core Road” belongs to this category.