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Taiwan's Semiconductor Industry Must Look Outward

Former technology minister says overseas expansion also addresses the island’s resource and talent constraints.
Liang-Gee Chen, Taiwan's former Minister of Science and Technology.
Liang-Gee Chen, Taiwan's former Minister of Science and Technology. (Credit: Judith Cheng)

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By Judith Cheng

Liang-Gee Chen, Taiwan’s former Minister of Science and Technology, has proven to be a genuinely rare leader among Taiwanese officials. What drove Chen was not his political ambition. Rather, it was his passion for science — rooted in his own engineering background — that made Chen a uniquely qualified and vocal policy maker.

Chen earned B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from National Cheng Kung University in 1979, 1981, and 1986, respectively. Add to those credentials dozens of U.S. patents. Chen is also the longest-serving Minister of Science and Technology. During his more than three-year tenure (February 2017 to May 2019), he earned the moniker, “King of Ideas”. Chen’s management style differed sharply from politicians and policymakers. For instance, he wrote weekly internal emails designed to encourage more collaboration among civil servants. He also encouraged research in AI and promoted entrepreneurship, aiming to accelerate the transformation of Taiwan’s electronic industry from hardware to full-stack systems.

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