Taiwan is stepping up efforts to halt what it believes are illegal activities by Chinese firms to steal tech and poach talent.

Reuters reported that Taiwanese prosecutors on Friday have charged 14 people, after it accused a Chinese supplier to Apple of stealing commercial secrets from a Taiwanese supplier and poaching its workforce in order to win orders from the iPhone giant.

The Taiwanese government is increasingly aware of the need to protect its technology prowess. Taiwan is a known silicon production hub, and a lot of everyday technology is either manufactured in the country, or by a Taiwanese company in mainland China.

Commercial espionage

The firm being targetted by prosecutors in New Taipei is China-based Luxshare Precision Industry Co Ltd, and the victim is said to be Taiwanese competitor Catcher Technology Co Ltd.

Taiwanese prosecutors state that after a year and half investigation, they found that Luxshare had allegedly targetted Catcher Technology “in order to quickly enter the Apple production chain to win orders.”

Luxshare had reportedly “lured” Catcher’s China-based research and development team with promises of high salaries and stole business secrets from the Taiwanese firm, causing them big losses, the prosecutors said in a statement.

Luxshare was doing this in order to be able to “quickly build factories and mass produce cases for iPhones, iPads and other products,” the statement said.

Luxshare did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and neither did Apple.

And New Taipei prosecutors have reportedly charged 14 people in connection with the case for breach of trust and taking commercial secrets for use overseas.

“The department will do its best to investigate such cases to maintain the sound development of our country’s enterprises and ensure the competitiveness of national industries,” prosecutors were quoted as saying.

Taiwan’s Catcher makes iPhone and iPad cases, said in a statement it continues to implement and optimise the protection of trade secrets and intellectual property rights, and will investigate anything that infringes on its rights and interests.

The company is co-operating with the probe, it added.

In May, Taiwanese authorities reportedly raided 10 companies or their R&D centres operating in Taiwan without approval suspected of illegally poaching chip engineers and other tech talent.

China warning

Earlier this month the heads of the FBI and MI5 in London warned business leaders that the Chinese government is set on stealing their technology for competitive gain.

Christopher Wray, the FBI director, stood alongside the MI5 director general, Ken McCallum, and both men gave an unprecedented speech, after years of concern about China’s activities.

The FBI’s Wray reaffirmed long-standing concerns about economic espionage and hacking operations by China, as well as the Chinese government’s efforts to stifle dissent abroad.

A cross-party group of MPs and Lords recently called for ban on widely used Hikvision and Dahua surveillance tech in UK over human rights and surveillance concerns.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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