TAIPEI: Microsoft has announced to build its first cloud-computing data center in Taiwan and turn it into a key operating hub in the region amid uncertainty created by an intensifying US-China war.
The US software giant said the company also announced invest in local talent and development with the goal to provide digital skilling for over 200,000 people in Taiwan by 2024.
Microsoft is growing its Taiwan Azure Hardware Systems and Infrastructure engineering group, which will establish Taiwan as a hub in Asia for innovation in designing and building advanced cloud software and hardware infrastructure.
“This is a very important day for Microsoft, as it is our biggest investment in Taiwan over the past 31 years of presence here,” Microsoft Taiwan General Manager Ken Sun told a press conference. “Taiwan is a reliable partner to Microsoft as it has a complete information technology supply chain with resourceful talents. We also see cross-industry collaboration opportunities with semiconductors, telco, medical and other industries here.”
Microsoft said its plans for its Azure cloud-computing business would help to create 30,000 direct and indirect jobs in Taiwan and generate some 300 billion Taiwan dollars ($10.5 billion) of economic value by 2024.
The American software giant’s announcement came a month after Google said it would build its third data center in Taiwan, a democratic-ruled island that China views as a part of its territory. Google cited the island’s location as strategically suited for an Asian data transfer hub.
“Microsoft’s investment marks a deeper collaboration between the U.S. and Taiwan” at a time of supply chain restructuring, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said at the press event.
“Taiwan has an irreplaceable edge in terms of high-end hardware manufacturing, and we are a reliable, safe partner for the U.S. and other advanced countries. Microsoft’s investment is key for us to enhance our collaboration with the international community and with the U.S.”
Taiwan is looking to maintain a warm relationship with the United States, which will have its presidential election in a week, amid escalating conflict over technology between the world’s two biggest economic powers.
The Trump administration has launched an aggressive campaign to block China’s tech advance, asking global suppliers to cut their reliance on the country. It has also introduced curbs on supplying Huawei, China’s biggest tech company, and the use of Chinese cloud computing providers such as Alibaba Group Holding, which the US views as posing security risks, as part of a “Clean Network” initiative.
Apart from Microsoft and Google, the Taiwanese government is also keen to invite Facebook to build its data center on the island, as a move to elevate Taiwan’s strategic position for global tech groups.
Microsoft has more than 60 Azure data centers worldwide, with four in China and one in Hong Kong. Others in Asia include two each in South Korea and Japan, four in Australia, and one in Singapore.
Microsoft will expand its Azure hardware systems and infrastructure team and make Taiwan its key research and development and operation hub in Asia in the next two years.