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Controversial IC tycoon to donate NT$3 billion for Taiwan's security

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Robert Tsao. CNA photo Aug. 5, 2022

Taipei, Aug. 5 (CNA) Robert Tsao (曹興誠), the founder of contract chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp. (UMC), pledged Friday to donate NT$3 billion (US$100 million) to help Taiwan strengthen its defenses as China launched intensive military drills around Taiwan.

Tsao, who gave up his Republic of China (Taiwan) citizenship to migrate to Singapore in 2011 in part because of lingering dismay over government restrictions on UMC's ability to invest in China, has more recently become a vocal critic of Beijing.

At a news conference held in Taipei on Friday after China initiated massive military drills in waters around Taiwan, the entrepreneur described the maneuvers as "unbearable insolence" and said the donation would be aimed at shoring up Taiwan's security and defense posture.

The funds will support defense education for individuals or groups to help Taiwan resist Beijing's cognitive and psychological warfare campaigns and also go toward countering Chinese Communist Party cyberattacks and hacking activities against Taiwan, he said.

Tsao said he still was thinking about exactly how the funds will be used, but suggested that the establishment of a foundation could be an option.

China's massive military exercises around Taiwan were initiated after U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi completed a 19-hour stop in Taiwan on Wednesday, which Beijing had strongly opposed.

In a statement he released separately Friday, Tsao called the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) a "hooligan" and a "local ruffian," and he urged those Taiwanese interested in reunification with China to "draw a clear line" and keep a distance from the authoritarian regime.

A normal civilized country should admire human rights, the rule of law, democracy and freedom, but "the CCP advocates totalitarianism, deceit, hatred, and violence," Tsao said.

"Everyone should understand that I am not doing it (the donation) for the sake of fame or fortune. I'm not interested in politics or elections, either," he said.

"I just hate the CCP's lies and violence, and hope to leave a piece of pure land and a blue sky in Taiwan for those who speak Chinese."

Tsao's recent attacks against China sharply contrasted with his behavior when he actively ran UMC more than 15 years ago.

He led a team to set up Hejian Technology (Suzhou) Co. in China's Jiangsu province in 2001, which triggered an investigation by the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government at the time led by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

Because of the investment in Hejian, UMC was charged for breach of trust and violation of the Business Entity Accounting Act in 2005 but was found not guilty in 2010. Tsao stepped down as chairman of UMC in 2005.

In January 2011, Tsao, who was unhappy with the DPP's crackdown on UMC's investment in China, accepted an invitation from the Singapore government to obtain Singaporean citizenship, giving up his ROC citizenship in the process.

In 2013, UMC took Hejian under its corporate umbrella after the Koumintang took office and allowed the company to build an 8-inch wafer plant in China.

Although Tsao is no longer a ROC citizen, Tsao said in March 2022 that his two sons remained ROC citizens and would fight the People's Liberation Army were China to invade Taiwan.

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