TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Fifteen years after being recruited by Taiwan to help
establish local high-tech electronics and semiconductor industries,
68-year-old Morris Chang again has been tapped to serve the island's
government as senior adviser to president-elect Chen Shui-bian.
The appointment of Chang to Chen's new adviser group came late Thursday
afternoon, just several hours after Chang participated in the opening
ceremony of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd.'s Fab 6 plant in
Tainan. Chang, the high-influential chairman and CEO of TSMC, is considered
the "father of Taiwan's chip industry" by many local political and industry
Prior to the appointment, rumors were circulating about Chang
considering a post in the new government following Chen's upset election
victory over incumbent Lee Teng-hui this month. Chen's victory and his
Democratic Progressive Party's past support for Taiwan independence has
caused tensions to increase between the island and communist China, which
insists that Taiwan will continue to be a territory of mainland China.
Chang's name--along with other Taiwan business leaders--had been floated
as a possible candidate for a cabinet post or even premier, but the TSMC
founder insisted he wasn't interest in becoming a political leader prior to
his meeting with Chen on Thursday. Chen, 48, surprised many observers by
appointing defense minister Tang Fei from the rival Nationalist Party
(Kuomintang, or KMT), as Taiwan's next premier.
According to local press reports, Chang and president-elect Chen agreed
on several issues, such as Taiwan's sovereignty and security as well as
economic reform and increased development. Earlier this week, Chang said he
was confident that heightened tensions between Taiwan and mainland China
were easing and no open conflict would result from the Chen's election or
the debate over the island's status as a country or province. He is
certainly not worried about war.
"The leadership in mainland China is quite rational when it comes to
international issues," said China in an interview during a dinner in Taipei
this week. "It would be monumental stupidity to do anything rash. The days
of mad dictatorship are gone and the current leadership in China is much
Chang--like many of Taiwan's top business and political leaders--is a
native of mainland China. He moved to the U.S. in 1949 after graduating
from high school in Shanghai. In 1952, Chang received a bachelor's of
science degree from M.I.T, and a master's degree in mechanical engineering
from the school a year later.
In 1958, Chang joined Texas Instruments in Dallas as an engineering
manager after working for Sylvania. He received a Ph.D. from Stanford
University in 1964, and soon became TI's general manager of germanium
transistors and then the head of silicon transistors. Chang worked his way
through TI's management ranks to become semiconductor group vice president
in 1972, and held other senior positions at the company before leaving the
Dallas chip maker to join General Instrument as president and CEO in 1984.
In 1985, Chang was then recruited by the Republic of China (ROC) in
Taiwan to serve as president of the Industrial Technology Research
Institute (ITRI). He served as ITRI chairman from 1988 to 1997. In 1987,
Chang founded TSMC as the world's largest pure-play silicon foundry
company. He is also chairman of DRAM maker Vanguard International
Semiconductor Corp. in Taiwan as well as Wyse Technology Inc.