AU Optronics to Build $3 Billion Plant in China

Company is following new investment rule that allows investment in 'sixth-generation' facilities on the mainland, if more advanced technologies are kept in Taiwan

AU Optronics, a leading Taiwanese flat screen manufacturer, said on March 15 it plans to spend three billion dollars building a new plant in China as it looks to tap into the huge mainland market.

The announcement follows Taiwan's relaxation of restrictions on flat screen and microchip investment in China in February amid improving ties.

AU Optronics is planning on building an advanced, so-called "7.5 generation" plant in Kunshan, eastern Jiangsu province, meaning that it could make liquid crystal displays larger than 40 inches. Production is slated to start in 2011.

"We are glad to take advantage of the new China investment rules. The Kunshan plant is expected to help the company to get closer to its customers in that area," company spokeswoman Hsiao Ya-wen said.

Under the new rules, Taiwan's LCD makers are allowed to invest in "sixth-generation" and higher technology facilities on the mainland, on condition that they keep more advanced technologies at home.

AU Optronics' "8.5 generation" plant in Taiwan produces 50-inch panels.

Calls for easing controls on investment in the mainland have mounted among Taiwan's high-tech businesses, who argue that their competitors from South Korea and Japan have been stepping up activity there. But Taiwan's opposition, which favors independence from Beijing, has repeatedly warned against easing controls, fearing closer economic integration.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2010

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