Taiwanese Engineers Who Built Dictator Xi’s Computer Chips, Are Voting With Their Feet for Taiwan’s Democracy and Freedom

(p. B1) TAIPEI, Taiwan — The job offer from a Chinese semiconductor company was appealing. A higher salary. Work trips to explore new technologies.

No matter that it would be less prestigious for Kevin Li than his job in Taiwan at one of the world’s leading chip makers. Mr. Li eagerly moved to northeast China in 2018, taking part in a wave of corporate migration as the Chinese government moved aggressively to build up its semiconductor industry.

He went back to Taiwan after two years, as Covid-19 swept through China and global tensions intensified. Other highly skilled Taiwanese engineers are going home, too.

For many, the strict pandemic measures have been tiresome. Geopolitics has made the job even more fraught, with China increasingly vocal about staking its claim on Taiwan, a self-ruled democracy.

. . .

(p. B4) For now, Mr. Li is staying in Taiwan, working for an American chip company operating there and siding with the invigorated patriotic sentiment and the ethos of individual liberty.

“The advantage of working in Taiwan is that you don’t have to worry about officials shutting down the whole company because of one thought,” he said. “The atmosphere is very important. At least I can watch all kinds of programs criticizing the governments on both sides of the Taiwan Strait without worrying about being arrested.”

For the full story, see:

Jane Perlez, Amy Chang Chien and John Liu. “Taiwanese Who Built Up Chip Sector in China Are Fed Up and Going Home.” The New York Times (Tuesday, November 22, 2022): B1 & B4.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Nov. 16, 2022, and has the title “Engineers From Taiwan Bolstered China’s Chip Industry. Now They’re Leaving.” The online version says that the title of the print version is “They Built Up China’s Chip Sector. Now, They’re Going Home to Taiwan” but the title of my national edition copy is “Taiwanese Who Built Up Chip Sector in China Are Fed Up and Going Home.”)

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