Act locally, move to China?

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There's something to be said for thinking globally by acting locally, but it seems the majority of chip and microelectronics manufacturers in the United States have misunderstood this fashionable phrase.

Rather, they have taken it to the opposite extreme by either closing down fabs or just eliminating the U.S. as a potential expansion locale by moving to China—taking good-paying jobs and tax revenues along with them.

And nothing seems to slow this manufacturing migration; not even severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) can stop it.

According to recently published reports by the likes of Booz Allen Hamilton, China—the powerhouse of Asia Pacific—is expected to control 14 percent of the global electronics market by 2005.

This is a significant chunk of the pie moving to a region that many say is a place where there's no such thing as intellectual property.

That said, is it fair to accuse China of stealing intellectual property if it is essentially given to them gift-wrapped in the form of a new manufacturing facility?

The Asia Pacific region has seemingly thrown many companies into an identity crisis. Some are saying that companies need to be there for strategic purposes, while others are saying the economic and security risks far outweigh any benefit of doing business there.

But at the end of the day, when the deals in the board rooms have been hammered out, it is important to remember that we will always be known by the company that we keep.

Mark A. DeSorbo
Associate Editor


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