Why Taiwan Will Send Tech Guru to APEC in November
TAIPEI, TAIWAN â"
Taiwanâs pick of a semiconductor magnate rather than a political figure as its envoy to a meeting of 21 Asian nations, including historical rival China, gives it a chance to showcase its tech prowess instead of its sticky position in geopolitics.
Morris Chang, retired chairman of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., will head the Taiwan delegation to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leadersâ summit next month in Papua New Guinea.
Taiwanese officials normally send political figures to the event that Chinese President Xi Jinping is also expected to attend. China sees self-ruled Taiwan as a breakaway part of its territory rather than as a country, keeping relations chilled for decades.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said she picked Chang because of his status in global industry. Heâs ideal to discuss Taiwanâs technology with world leaders, she said Oct. 3 in announcing the appointment. Chang is expected to focus away from geopolitics or China-Taiwan ties.
âHe qualifies as the best person to choose, because after all, these so-called (Taiwan) politicians, their level of international influence isnât high enough,â said Liang Kuo-yuan, president of the think tank Polaris Research Institute in Taipei. âI believe that Morris will help speak for Taiwan at an appropriate time.â
Message of high-tech prowess
Taiwan has been a manufacturing hub since the 1980s for hardware such as PCs and, more recently, smartphones. Taiwanese firms often make those devices on contract for Apple and other major brands. Much of that hardware carries chips made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.
Now Taiwanese leaders hope to shift their technology sector, about one-fifth of GDP, more toward software, such as mobile apps, and software-hardware combinations, in line with world trends. The central government is pushing the industry to rely more on own-brand gear instead of contract work.
Tsai asked Changâs delegation at APEC to âidentify opportunities for cooperation and tell the international community about Taiwanâs strengths, and vision and ideas about embracing our digital future,â the presidential website says.
Changâs company is well known offshore, Liang said. He founded Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) in 1987 and built it into the worldâs largest contract chipmaker for electronic devices. He created the company after Taiwan officials at the time called him over from Texas Instruments in the United States to help jumpstart the islandâs tech sector.
His New York-listed company that reported 2017 profits of $11.1 billion on $31.6 billion in revenue is seen as a bellwether for global tech investments. Chang, 87, retired in June.
Other world leaders âcan understand TSMCâs strength,â enabling Chang to talk to them about management, Liang said.
China wonât mind
Chang as a skillful communicator from a nonpolitical background is unlikely to ruffle China at APEC, political scholars say. Taiwanâs delegates sometimes meet briefly with those from China, though they donât us e the event to discuss their own issues.
China forbids Taiwanâs participation outright in other international bodies, such as the United Nations, because it does not recognize the government in Taipei. It also asks that its 170-plus foreign allies avoid Taiwan except for trade and consular matters.
Taiwanese presidents have stayed in APEC to date by sending politicians, often from outside government, whom Beijing likes. Taiwan presidents themselves cannot attend the leader summits.
China and Taiwan have not talked formally since Tsai took office in 2016. Tsai disputes Beijingâs dialogue premise, that each side see itself as part of China.
âIn terms of political reality, heâs the one and only (who) could be accepted on the part of mainland China, so thatâs why Chang was sent out one more time,â said Liu Yih-jiun, professor of public affairs at Fo Guang University in Taiwan.
China-Taiwan relations off limits
Chang probably has no mandate to discuss China-Taiwan relations, known as cross-Strait ties, said Raymond Wu, managing director of Taipei-based political risk consultancy e-telligence.
âI donât really expect anything substantive to come out of the APEC,â Wu said. âWhether Chang gets a meeting with Xi Jinping, it doesnât really matter. Thatâs one of the no-noâs for Beijing â" not to publicize cross-Strait relations internationally.â
Taiwan and China have been separately ruled since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, when the Chiang Kai-shekâs Nationalists lost and fled to the island. Government opinion polls in Taiwan show most people support the islandâs autonomy over Chinaâs goal of unifying the two sides.Source: Google News Taiwan | Netizen 24 Taiwan