Semiconductor giant SMIC rewards senior Taiwanese executive with hefty compensation as China builds up chip sector’s hi-tech talent pool
- SMIC co-chief executive Liang Mong-song’s annual salary reached US$1.53 million in 2020, up 450 per cent from a year earlier
- He also received a flat worth US$3.4 million and 259,800 shares in the Shanghai-based contract chip maker
Liang’s total salary last year reached US$1.53 million, the highest received by an executive at Shanghai-based SMIC, up 450 per cent from his US$341,000 pay in 2019. Along with the flat, Liang also received 259,800 shares in the company. SMIC’s share price traded at HK$27 in Hong Kong and 58 yuan in Shanghai as of Wednesday.
Chiang’s annual compensation at SMIC is US$670,000, according to a corporate filing last year, which would be about one-fifth of what he earned before retiring from TSMC in 2006.
Liang was overlooked for the top R&D job at TSMC when Chiang left, according to Taiwan media reports at the time. Liang joined SMIC in 2017 as co-chief executive, with an annual cash compensation of US$200,000, which marked another high-profile move by China to recruit semiconductor talent from Taiwan.
SMIC said Liang was given the flat in November last year, before his attempted resignation.
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In his leaked resignation letter in December, Liang revealed that he leads a team of 2,000 engineers who are tasked to complete the development of process nodes from 28-nanometre to 7-nm – a mission that could take other companies more than 10 years to complete. Liang also wrote that he is working at SMIC “not for a high position or fat salary”, but for the company’s progress.
In 2015, TSMC – the world’s largest semiconductor foundry – won its lawsuit against Liang for leaking trade secrets to Samsung, where he was temporarily barred from working.
Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing views as a renegade province, continues to be a major source of semiconductor talent for mainland Chinese chip firms. But initiatives by SMIC and other mainland Chinese semiconductor companies to continue recruiting talent from Taiwan could face increased resistance.
Taiwanese authorities last month raided the offices of two companies for poaching local talent for a mainland Chinese chip company, accusing the headhunters of undermining the island’s semiconductor industry. Cross-strait relations have worsened recently, both in the political and economic arenas, and the latest move by Taipei could be seen as a warning shot to Beijing’s semiconductor-related recruitment efforts.