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China shuts down $20 bn chipmaking plant in Wuhan

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A $20 billion semiconductor manufacturing project backed by the Chinese government has gone belly-up, with the announcement of the decision to sack all employees of its key operator Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (HSMC). 

The company, which failed to attract more investors since late 2019, clarified that it had "no plans to resume production". According to Chinese media reports, the company's employees were "asked to resign" on Monday through a WeChat message, says a report published in the website Taiwan News.

Employees of the company state that HSMC did not provide any explanation for its closure or any compensation. According to some reports, about 240 people will lose their jobs in the semiconductor plant.

Launched in November 2017, HSMC has a leadership team of former Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) executives including Chiang Shang-yi, former Chief Operating Officer of TSMC, as their CEO had planned an investment of $20 billion. At this time, it was said that this investment would create 50,000 jobs directly or indirectly, and if it started running at full capacity, its annual output would be $9.25 billion.

In 2019, the project was shut down due to irreconcilable gaps in funding, and the status of the public money sunk into it was left unaddressed. Meanwhile, Chang left the company in mid-2020, describing his experience with HSMC as a "nightmare".

After Chang's resignation, HSMC became known as a "multi-billion chipmaking fraud". Builders and contractors complained about the delayed payments, and some reports found that most of its employees had no background in semiconductor manufacturing as claimed.