Chinese President Xi Urges Tech Independence

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Facing increasing US export controls on advanced technology, Chinese President Xi Jinping calls for tech self-reliance

China has responded to growing pressure from the United States, as it tightens exports controls dealing with advanced technology.

Reuters, citing state news agency outlet Xinhua, reported that President Xi Jinping said China must resolve issues in key technological fields from the bottom up.

This is not the first time that President Xi has issued a rallying call to Chinese firms. In October 2022 President Xi called for his country to “win the battle” on strategically important technologies, days after the US dramatically expanded trade sanctions aimed at crippling China’s tech initiatives.

Export controls

Those US regulations passed in early October dramatically restricted the sale of advanced advanced artificial intelligence (AI) computing chips and chip-making equipment to Chinese organisations.

The US at the time also added 31 companies to its unverified list, including YMTC and a subsidiary of leading chip equipment maker Naura Technology Group, significantly limiting their ability to buy equipment from US suppliers.

Then last month the US administration reached a secretive deal with the Netherlands and Japanese governments to place additional restrictions on exporting advanced chipmaking equipment to China, following months of negotiations.

A US official then acknowledged the deal with Japan and the Netherlands for new restrictions on chip-making tool exports to China, but declined to provide details.

Earlier this month Dutch chip equipment maker ASML Holding confirmed a data theft of its IP – by a former employee located in China.

Tech self-reliance

In light of these growing restrictions, China’s President Xi reportedly said on Tuesday during a study session of the 24-person Politburo, that China needed to strengthen basic research in science and technology if it is to achieve self-reliance and become a global tech power.

“To cope with international science and technology competition, achieve a high level of self-reliance and self-improvement … we urgently need to strengthen basic research and solve key technology problems from the source,” Xinhua reportedly quoted Xi as saying.

According to Reuters, Xi also on Tuesday said it was necessary to grow China’s pool of top-notch tech talent, echoing a speech in 2021 where he said that by 2035 China “should rank among the leading countries in the world with respect to our strategic and technological strength and our army of high-quality talent”.