By Erik Weibust (Boston)
Illustrating the roadblocks that Taiwanese companies still must overcome to do business in mainland China (Taiwan split from China amid a civil war in 1949), Forbes.com is reporting that electronics giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. recently took out half-page ads in major Taiwanese newspapers complaining about delays in a Chinese court over the prosecution of a Chinese competitor for allegedly stealing its trade secrets. In 2006, Hon Hai, which employs approximately 500,000 Chinese workers, sued BYD Company Limited, a Chinese competitor, for allegedly “systematically looting its trade secrets.” According to Hon Hai, in 2006, two of its former employees took secret information when they left to work for BYD. Although the two employees have since been convicted of infringement in a Chinese court, according to Hon Hai, that may only be the tip of the iceberg. Specifically, Hon Hai alleges that over the past 4 to 5 years, 400 of its employees have moved to BYD, many of whom are suspected of providing the company with Hon Hai’s trade secrets and proprietary information.
According to the newspaper ads, the head of BYD is a member of the powerful People’s Congress, which has “the power to remove members of the judiciary.” This, Hon Hai alleges in its ads has “result[ed] in a certain degree of unwillingness among local judicial and police members to deal with the case.” Nevertheless, Hon Hai believes that its rights will be vindicated eventually, particularly given China’s senior leaders’ commitment to protecting the interests of Taiwanese businesses on the mainland.