Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Your Taiwan Sports and Business Section

We felt like some light blogging to ease back into things after a long hiatus. Here is some Taiwan-related news we found interesting while trolling around the internet this morning:

Taiwan on the Olympic Home-stretch

Apparently Taiwan's national baseball team has an excellent shot at qualifying for the already semi-notorious Beijing '08 Summer Olympics. Perhaps adding to that notoriety is the fact that, in the event that they do qualify, Taiwan's world-class ball players will be forced to don "Chinese Taipei" uniforms in Beijing, as do all of their compatriots who compete in the Olympics. The good news for Taiwan baseball, however, is that Taiwan is making its Olympic bid on home turf. From Reuters:

Baseball-mad Taiwan is heading for the home plate in their quest for an Olympics berth after making a solid start to a qualification tournament being held in the centre of the island.

Taiwan, who have won three of their four games, will know by Friday whether the island's fans can watch their team at the Beijing Games in August.

. . . .

This week, Taiwan are facing off against seven countries for one of the three berths available at the International Baseball Federation's final Olympic qualifying tournament.

The hosts have beaten Germany, Italy and Mexico but lost to Canada in a volatile encounter that went to an extra inning and ended in a mass brawl.

Taiwan are next scheduled to play Australia on Wednesday, South Africa on Thursday and a strong South Korea, who are 4-0, on Friday.

Although local athletes are likely to qualify for other events, baseball is by far the most dominant and popular sport in Taiwan.

"Baseball is so important that if we're not in the Olympics, people will be very disappointed," said Richard Lin, secretary general of the island's Amateur Baseball Association.

"It's our national sport and this chance at the Olympics is hard to get."

Olympics hosts China will be joined in Beijing by the United States, Cuba, the Netherlands and Japan, as well as the three qualifiers from the Taiwan competition.

We're sure we don't have to go into detail on how incredible it would be for 'Chinese Taipei' to beat China's baseball team in the Beijing Olympics. We also wouldn't be surprised if, for just this reason, the organizers do their best to make the likelihood as small as possible of Taiwan's ball players facing China's in competition. Of course, we can't get ahead of ourselves--Taiwan needs to qualify first. We'll see what happens. . .

Business: Taiwan Semiconductor and other firms announced plan to pump $450 million U.S. into tech infrastructure

That's a big, honkin' investment by anyone's standards, and hopefully it will do much to maintain Taiwan's leading position as a leader in global IT manufacturing. From Bloomberg:

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world's largest custom-chip maker, and two other semiconductor producers will invest a combined NT$450 billion ($14.7 billion) in five new factories as the market expands.

Taiwan Semiconductor, Powerchip Semiconductor Corp. and Vanguard International Semiconductor Corp. will spend the money in the next two years to build the plants in Hsinchu Science Park, northern Taiwan, the park's management said in a statement distributed at a ground-breaking ceremony today.

Chipmakers in Taiwan are increasing capacity to gain market share from rivals including Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. as demand rises for semiconductors used in computers and electronics such as digital music players. Global chip shipments will probably climb 24 percent this year, Daiwa Institute of Research Ltd. said in a report in January.

``There will be a chip shortage from the fourth quarter of this year,'' Powerchip Chairman Frank Huang said at the ceremony.

Taiwan Semiconductor and Powerchip will construct two factories each, while Vanguard will build one, said Huang Der-ray, director-general of the Hsinchu Science Park Administration. The plants will cut semiconductors from silicon wafers measuring 12 inches in diameter. The investments will create 10,000 jobs in Taiwan, the statement said.

Taiwan Semiconductor climbed 2 percent to NT$62.4 in Taipei trading today, while the benchmark Taiex index gained 1 percent. Powerchip shares fell 1.2 percent and Vanguard added 0.5 percent.

If you jump over to the story on its original page at Bloomberg's site, they have a breakdown of the planned spending. Nothing like some good financial news to brighten your day. So there you have it, some warm and fuzzy news today as Taiwan keeps it competitive in business and baseball.