Taiwan chip veteran calls working for China’s top foundry SMIC a ‘foolish’ decision

“Because I am a US citizen, it did bother me a lot,” said Chiang, who pursued graduate studies at Princeton University and Stanford University. He added that he thought the mainland Chinese government did not trust him because he was a Taiwanese with US citizenship.

Chiang relinquished all his roles at SMIC, including vice chairmanship and executive director, in November 2021. At the time, he told the Post he would return to the US to join his family and enjoy retirement.

In his interview with CHM, Chiang said he first decided to sit on SMIC’s board because his close friend Chiu Tzu-Yin, a former colleague at TSMC and SMIC’s chief executive at the time, asked him to help out. He said he also received the blessings of TSMC founder Morris Chang.

But Chiang’s decision to join a competitor of TSMC was viewed by many in Taiwan as unpatriotic. “Before that, I had a pretty good image in Taiwan. That really hurt my image a lot,” he said.

After leaving SMIC’s board in 2019, Chiang became chief executive at the now-defunct Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (HSMC) in Wuhan, which local authorities had hoped to transform into the nation’s leading chip maker.

He left around a year later, calling the experience a “nightmare” in a written message to the Post. He said at the time that he was unaware of the extent of HSMC’s financial difficulties until the local government exposed the problem in July 2020.

The SMIC headquarters in Shanghai. Photo: Bloomberg

The SMIC headquarters in Shanghai. Photo: Bloomberg

Chiang, who was born in the Chinese city of Chongqing and raised in Taiwan, is one of several respected semiconductor experts on the island who have helped the mainland develop its chip industry.

SMIC, one of Beijing’s best hopes in achieving semiconductor self-sufficiency for the nation, was founded by Richard Chang – a former Texas Instruments employee who crossed the Taiwan Strait 22 years ago to set up the Chinese foundry among rice fields in Shanghai’s suburbs.

South China Morning Post

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