Microchip tycoon Robert Tsao will donate $32 million to train Taiwanese in warfare.
United Microelectronics Corp. founder Robert Tsao has pledged $32 million of his own money to a school training Taiwanese volunteers to fight against an “invasion” from mainland China. After his announcement on Thursday, UMC distanced itself from Tsao, saying the initiative was his own and they had nothing to do with it.
“If we can successfully resist China’s ambitions, we not only will be able to safeguard our homeland but make a big contribution to the world situation and the development of civilization,” Tsao said at a press conference in Taipei, announcing that he will spend a billion Taiwan dollars to train “three million people in three years.”
The money will go to the Kuma Academy, a “civil defense” outfit established in 2021 to train the island’s residents in first aid and guerrilla warfare. Tsao reportedly approached them after they launched a crowdfunding drive in August.
About 60% of the funding will go towards training an army of “warriors,” while 40% would be dedicated to training 300,000 people how to shoot.
“This goal is ambitious and the challenge is daunting, but Taiwan has no time to hesitate,” Kuma Academy said in a statement. The island has around 25 million residents, with a standing army of about 90,000 troops that has been struggling to attract enlistments.
Tsao called himself a former supporter of Taiwan’s unification with China, but in an interview with the US government-funded Radio Free Asia last week said Beijing’s crackdown on the “pro-democracy” movement in Hong Kong changed his mind. On Thursday, he said he had restored his Taiwanese citizenship, renounced his Singaporean one, and planned to “die in Taiwan and stand with its people.”
China has “ignited among the Taiwanese people a bitter hatred against this threatening enemy, and a shared determination to resist,” he said.
Taiwan has been ruled by Chinese nationalists who left the mainland in 1949, after losing the civil war to Communist forces. Beijing considers it a part of China, to be reintegrated by any means necessary.
Tensions over the island reignited at the beginning of August, when US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei against Beijing’s objections. This was followed by two more congressional delegations. China responded by organizing massive sea and air exercises around the island.