Chinese president Xi Jinping may want to hire global talent to win the battle to develop homegrown technologies but the US restrictions aimed at hurting China’s semiconductor industry may dent those desires.
The US imposed several sanctions earlier this month on so-called US citizens supporting the ‘development, production or use of integrated circuits at some chip plants’ situated in China, Bloomberg reported. The report further said that the measures are broad enough to cover Chinese American as well as American citizens.
This means several senior executives at Chinese semiconductor companies could also come under the ambit of these sanctions.
During his address Xi pointed out that China will try to attract the best minds from all areas to realise the ambitions of the country as well as the Chinese Communist Party (CPC). He was alluding to the need of exchanging international talent to help Chinese industries grow.
The Bloomberg report pointed out that Senior Chinese officials have several times sought to assure overseas researchers that ‘China is a better place for their work’ and has pledged to strengthen its push to attract international talent from across the planet.
China’s technological rise was supported by designers, engineers and scientists who were born in foreign lands as well as due to Chinese residents in other countries who hold foreign passports or residency.
Bloomberg citing filings made to data technology service company Tianyancha showed that major Chinese semiconductor firms like AMEC, StarPower Semiconductor, 3Peak, SG Micro, Halo Microelectronics and Montage Technology among others have CEOs and founders who have graduated from American universities and have worked in American companies in the Silicon Valley.
For example, Yang Chonghe of Montage Technology holds master’s degree and doctor’s degrees in electronic engineering from Oregon State University and worked for San Jose-based Integrated Device Technology (IDT).
Zhixu Zhou, founder and CEO of 3Peak earlier worked for Texas-based semiconductor firm Freescale Semiconductor and attended Arizona State University.
China requires expertise of such kinds of people to become the semiconductor giant that Xi Jinping wants it to become.
It should also be noted that Huawei Technologies Co. in its bid to compete with Apple’s iPhone hired former Apple Inc. creative director, Abigail Brody, as its chief designer in 2015 while heavily recruiting internationally to build its in-house chip and audio engineering and 5G wireless technology, Bloomberg said in its report.
China’s leading semiconductor equipment maker Piotech Inc has six American citizens in its key research and development roles. The top management, including chairman and general manager, are US citizens.
Biden’s new rules will hurt China by depriving it of much-needed experience which is necessary if it wants to become semiconductor sector champion.
The people who fall under the ambit of these sanctions will be able to work in China but they will require a licence and submit proof that their work won’t benefit the Chinese military. Bernstein analysts speaking to Bloomberg pointed out that given the variety of applications for any given semiconductor, it will be hard for those to prove that their work won’t be used to enhance the abilities of the Chinese military.
China’s bid to achieve technological self-sufficiency will face a roadblock due to these sanctions.
The US is also pleading to its allies to join its efforts. The US is persuading chip equipment maker ASML Holding NV of the Netherlands to join its cause and has been successful to some extent as the Dutch company prevented its American staff from supporting Chinese customers.
This dashes China’s hopes that international chip industry players would remain neutral.