TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Chiang Shang-yi (蔣尚義), who has served in top posts at both Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC) and China’s Semiconductor Manufacturing International Co. (SMIC), said he regrets ever joining the Chinese company and the decision was a “mistake.”
Chiang was the executive vice president and co-chief operating officer of TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, until 2013. Meanwhile, his two stints at SMIC, China’s biggest chipmaker, lasted between 2016-2018 and 2020-2021.
In a March interview with California-based Computer History Museumthe former Taiwanese semiconductor guru opened up about his experience working for the two semiconductor giants in both countries.
He lamented taking the offer from SMIC after his retirement from TSMC, saying the move was “one of the foolish things” he has done. “I had a pretty good image in Taiwan. That really hurt my image a lot,” he said, when speaking about his first stint at the Chinese company as a board member.
Soon after joining SMIC a second time in December 2020, the firm was hit with US sanctions that prevented it from procuring the equipment needed to manufacture 7-nanometer chips. Not only was he shackled by the sanctions, he also felt an entrenched distrust from the Chinese.
Chiang said the Chinese were wary of him because he was Taiwanese and also a US citizen.
Recalling his days at TSMC, Chiang shared what he believed was the main force driving the success of the company – the corporate culture. According to him, engineers of the company were so devoted to work that when the equipment “went down at two o’clock in the morning, we just called the equipment engineer,” and the engineer and his wife would not complain.
Another reason for the success of TSMC was the ability to avoid blunders. TSMC did not do anything special or great, he said, but when its major rivals like UMC and Intel made mistakes, “TSMC didn’t make any big mistakes.”