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Xi Jinping's Vision for Tech Self-Reliance in China Runs Into Reality


The chip industry is highly complex and interconnected. It depends on an integrated global supply chain and draws upon expertise from different regions: design in the U.S.; manufacturing in Taiwan and South Korea; assembly, packaging, and testing in China

Credit: Xinmei Liu

Wearing a laboratory coat, China's top leader, Xi Jinping, inspected a subsidiary of Yangtze Memory Technologies Company, a national semiconductor company based in Wuhan. It was April 2018, shortly after the U.S. government had barred the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE from doing business with American suppliers.

The ban was a Sputnik moment for China's tech industry and its leaders. Despite the country's success in building smartphones, e-commerce platforms and high-speed railways, they realized that tech boom had been built largely on top of Western technologies, especially chips that power nearly everything. They had to change that — and fast.

Mr. Xi told the executives of Yangtze Memory, or YMTC, that semiconductors were as important for manufacturing as hearts for humans. "When your heart isn't strong, no matter how big you are, you're not really strong," state media reported him saying. He urged them to hurry and make tech breakthroughs to contribute to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Wearing a laboratory coat, China's top leader, Xi Jinping, inspected a subsidiary of Yangtze Memory Technologies Company, a national semiconductor company based in Wuhan. It was April 2018, shortly after the U.S. government had barred the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE from doing business with American suppliers.

The ban was a Sputnik moment for China's tech industry and its leaders. Despite the country's success in building smartphones, e-commerce platforms and high-speed railways, they realized that tech boom had been built largely on top of Western technologies, especially chips that power nearly everything. They had to change that — and fast.

Mr. Xi told the executives of Yangtze Memory, or YMTC, that semiconductors were as important for manufacturing as hearts for humans. "When your heart isn't strong, no matter how big you are, you're not really strong," state media reported him saying. He urged them to hurry and make tech breakthroughs to contribute to the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

From The New York Times
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