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Huawei Hires TSMC Talents to Build Out Chinese Semiconductor Capabilities

Financial journalist Emmy Hu recently revealed on her Facebook account “Emmy’s Drama Watch Time” (“Emmy追劇時間”) that Huawei is poaching talents from Taiwan’s chipmaker TSMC so that Huawei can expand beyond the telecommunications business into chip manufacturing. Huawei establishes new legal entities for such poaching operations, making it hard for outsiders to connect the dots back to Huawei.

As early as 2022, a TSMC employee informed Emmy Hu that Huawei had been conducting a lot of interviews with TSMC staff. Huawei poached a star TSMC plant manager using a legal entity “Sheng Wei Xu (昇维旭)” which claimed to be manufacturing memory chips. The interview questions posed were all about integrated logic circuits (logic ICs), however, and all the interviewees were Huawei personnel. “Peng Xin Wei (鹏芯微)” is another company established by Huawei. This company moved even faster in purchasing equipment than “Sheng Wei Xu.” Emmy Hu was told that Huawei aimed to poach 300 mid-to-senior level employees at once because Beijing realized that poaching a single person, like Liang Mong Song (currently the CEO of SMIC), would result in slower progress (in terms of setting up manufacturing capabilities) than poaching a larger number of people. According to Emmy, Huawei’s goal is to bring in an entire factory management team to ramp up operations quickly.

Emmy Hu mentioned that two years ago SMIC (a Chinese chipmaker) attempted to produce 7nm chips supporting Huawei’s new Mate60 smartphone, but SMIC could not handle the task by itself. Huawei masterminded the effort, putting to work its resources recruited from Taiwan. Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuits, an independent Chinese company, now follows Huawei’s direction; it used to produce memory chips but now has switched to producing logic ICs. There are now a total of seven such logic IC chip companies working with Huawei; they are refer to the “Seven Little Dragons.”

Source: Facebook, account “Emmy追劇時間,” June 5, 2024