Taiwan Communities Fight Plans to Demolish Temples for More Microchip Plants
© Sputnik / Alexei KudenkoMicrochip
© Sputnik / Alexei Kudenko/
The breakaway Chinese province of Taiwan is a major supplier of microchips to the West. But expansion of the tech industry has been hampered by its "five shortages" — land, water, energy, labour, and talent.
Communities in Taiwan are fighting back against moves to demolish ancestral temples to make way for more microchip plants.
The giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) dropped plans to for a new factory near Hsinchu, the centre of the island's chip industry, last month after a small group of residents protested against the compulsory purchase of their farmland.
Opposition to the plans emerged at the first planning hearing in July, when local protesters held up a banner reading "Stop Land Pillage".
Land economics Professor Hsu Shih-jung from National Chengchi University was present at that meeting and shouted out his objections to the plan.
"Taiwanese society has become a stratified society," Hsu said. "Rich people, the semiconductor industry, bigwigs — they can own land, they can plunder land. Us ordinary folks — prepare for eviction at any moment."
"It was like they were drawing a big pie, but that pie was not for us," recalled fellow-resident Chen Ting-yen of the meeting. "Our earliest ancestors who came to Taiwan — you want me to dig them up?" she added. "These are our roots. Roots cannot be moved."
But the government in Taipei was keen to back TSMC, Taiwan's biggest corporation and the world's frontrunning chipmaker, which is often dubbed "the sacred mountain of protection" by the local media.
"TSMC's expansion in Taiwan has strategic significance for Taiwan's economy and national security," Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said.
The dispute has highlighted Taiwan's perennial "five shortages" — land, water, energy, labour, and talent.
The US, Japan and Germany have all offered incentives for TSMC to expand its overseas operations at the expense of Taiwan, where 90 percent of its production is stil concentrated.
"Taiwan's limited land and limited energy have always created a lot of pressure," said GlobalWafers CEO Doris Hsu. "Besides TSMC, all tech companies — when they want to expand in Taiwan — have to consider land and whether residents in the area would support the industry being there."