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The 32nd MAC Advisory Committee Meeting: Highlights of Discussion by Advisory Members*

  • Date:2022-01-04

News Reference Material
Date: January 4, 2022

  The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) recently held an Advisory Committee Meeting on the topic of "Risks of Cross-Strait Academic and Technological Exchanges and Protection Reinforcement of Research Outcomes." Key statements and highlights of discussion by the advisory members are as follows:

1. The introductory report presented by the scholars indicated that, so far, most of the basic and applied research conducted by academic and research institutions in Taiwan is funded by the government; therefore, there should be proper regulation and management in place to prevent mainland China from poaching talent or stealing technology secrets through means such as the "Thousand Talents Program" or providing funding for academic and research institutions. Following a preliminary overview of related regulations on the protection of research outcomes funded by government donation or grants, the scholars suggested that the government promptly define and expand the scope of outcomes of scientific and technological research and development, establish mechanisms for the supervision and accountability of participating researchers, and amend relevant laws and regulations to preserve Taiwan's core competitiveness.

2. Participating scholars believed that it is important to ensure the protection of Taiwan's scientific research achievements and strengthen the risk management of cross-Strait academic exchanges and collaboration. As of today, the government has authorized all research institutions to manage the outcomes of their own funded research. However, these institutions have since drawn up different rules for such management, specifically in the areas of the ownership, independent management, restrictions, etc., for their research outcomes; there is also a lack of regulatory and accountability mechanisms for participating researchers. Therefore, the scholars recommended that the government continue monitoring the research projects co-conducted by research personnel of institutions in Taiwan and their counterparts in mainland China, carry out inspection on whether the schools had filed with Ministry of Education in advance before signing cross-Strait inter-school exchange agreements, and do other due diligence. This will prevent potential leaks of Taiwan’s research achievements and key technology.

3. Some scholars commented on the theft of academic research outcomes by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) through infiltrating American universities under the "Thousand Talents Program." They noted that Dr. Charles Lieber, former chair of Harvard University's Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, concealed his participation in mainland China's Thousand Talents Program, for which he went through trials and has recently been found guilty on six counts, including making false statements to the authorities. The scholars suggested that the relevant competent authorities formulate relevant management regulations for the sources of funding or donation received by universities in Taiwan. Taiwan scholars should faithfully report to the competent authorities if they are double-funded by the government and overseas sources.

4. The participating scholars further recommended that the relevant government authorities raise awareness of related issues in the academia and industry circles. Examples included providing new-hire orientation training for newly-employed university faculty and research institution staff or offering more training courses to inform related personnel of cases of technology theft and talent poaching. This will enhance the legal intelligence of research personnel regarding intellectual property rights and trade secret protection. The institutions and companies in question should also strengthen their internal control mechanisms.

5. Some scholars concluded by advising that, in addition to rolling out protective measures for Taiwan's national security-related key technologies and other technologies in Taiwan’s high-tech industries, the government should also respond to the CCP’s announcements made this year, namely the "22 measures on agriculture and forestry," promotion of the integrated development of Fujian and Taiwan's agricultural sectors, and other related measures. These measures represent intensified efforts for mainland China to lure the talent and technology from Taiwan's agricultural sector and draw the cutting-edge technology and capital from related industries in Taiwan. The government should step up efforts to alert people of Taiwan to the risks of travelling to mainland China in order to safeguard their own interests and security and avoid harm to Taiwan's overall interests.

6. Minister Chiu Tai-san stated at the meeting that, due to the global chip shortage prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic in recent years, many countries have been very impressed by Taiwan's strength in semiconductor technology. To maintain Taiwan’s technological competitiveness, the government should not only pay attention to the protection of industry trade secrets but also place equal importance on the achievements of the technology research made by academic and research institutions in Taiwan. Going forward, the MAC will continue to work in conjunction with relevant competent authorities to assess the comprehensiveness of existing measures and regulations on the protection of sensitive technology and intellectual property rights. It will also shore up protection of research outcomes to preserve Taiwan's technological competitiveness and national security.

* The MAC Advisory Committee Meeting is formed by experts and scholars in related fields. The views and opinions expressed in the meetings or excerpted in this article belong solely to the speakers.