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Taiwan said Tuesday it would ignore a businessman’s request to renounce his citizenship if he was found to be trying to escape paying a fine imposed for making an unauthorized investment in rival China. Richard Chang, head of the Shanghai-based chipmaker Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., could even face a double fine unless he pays the fee by next month, the government said. Chang was fined 5 million New Taiwan Dollars (US$156,000, euro126,000) in March for setting up operations in Shanghai in 2000. Last month, the businessman, who also has American citizenship, asked Taiwanese authorities to cancel his citizenship, a company spokeswoman said. On Tuesday Foreign Ministry spokesman Michel Lu said Chang’s request would be ignored if the ministry determined it was made to avoid paying the fine. Chao Li-nien, of the government-sponsored Investment Commission, said unless Chang paid his fine by September, the amount of his penalty would double, and authorities would seek to confiscate the amount from his Taiwan assets. Taiwan strictly controls chipmakers’ investments in mainland China, with companies required to apply for permission before going ahead with such deals. While the two sides split amid civil war in 1949, commercial links between them are booming. Last year’s two-way trade amounted to more than US$60 billion (euro50 billion), and Taiwan companies have invested an estimated US$100 billion (euro83 billion) in mainland facilities over the past 15 years. Chang’s case reflects Taiwan’s growing determination to crack down on unauthorized investments on the mainland by local chipmakers, who can increase profit margins by exploiting significant wage differentials between China and the island. In February, Hsu Chien-hua, who heads China-based He Jian Technology, was fined for investing in China without government approval. Hsu has also been barred from leaving Taiwan pending a probe into allegations that Taiwanese chipmaker United Microelectronics Corp. provided his company funds and technology without seeking compensation. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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