Pressure on the Taiwanese dollar and a stock market fall threatened to mar the opening of the country's annual electronics jamboree, Computex, yesterday.
The Taiwanese computer industry, one of the mainstays of its economy, faces intense pressure on several fronts - falling PC prices, economic instability in some of its key markets plus political instability at home, and currency fluctuations.
As the head of Taiwan's intelligence agency warned that mainland China could be preparing for an invasion of the island, the New Taiwanese (NT) dollar dropped yesterday to its lowest point against the US dollar since the Asian economic crisis started, closing at $34.23. The country's stock market, the Taiex, plunged by nearly 300 points., prompting foreign investors to sell their shares in technology stocks.
Although Taiwan has been comparatively secure recently compared to other Asian economies like Korea and Japan, this combination of factors made government officials call for calm. The IT industry is dependent, to a large degree, on the combined stability of the Japanese and the US economies, which provide Taiwan with most of its vast OEM business.
The last month has seen Japanese firms turn in unprecedented profit drops, while US hi-tech stocks have fallen as a result of a string of profit warnings.
Meanwhile, English language paper 'China News' reported that Yin Tsung-wen, director of the country's National Security Bureau, had warned this week that any threat to Taiwan would start with an electronic attack on the country's communications and financial networks, followed by a physical assault on the island.
Last week, Beijing announced that four Taiwanese businessmen had been arrested on trips to the mainland on alleged charges of espionage.
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