The Chinese Dream, envisioning the Number
One Economy of the World, May Collapse because of Semiconductors
China’s ambitions, to surpass the United States and
become the number economy of the world, may collapse because of regulation of
semiconductors in the U.S., reported the Hong Kong South China Morning Post
(SCMP) on February 8.
chips are often compared to the beating heart driving technology innovation.
But with the United States restricting exports of critical semiconductor
components and technology to China, questions are mounting over how long the
world’s second largest economy
can maintain a pulse,”
noted the newspaper.
technologies are China’s Achilles’ heel, despite having the world’s
strongest industrial manufacturing capability, and they are easy prey for
Washington in its strategy of tech containment,” it
mastery of the fiendishly complex chips that power everything from cars to
smartphones, President Xi Jinping’s hopes of transforming China into the
pre-eminent global digital power, while surpassing the US to become the No 1
economy in the world, could fall apart.”
Zhang, Associate Professor of the University of Toronto, told SCMP that
semiconductors are the basis of the modern day economy, and explained that
there is an approximate estimate that semiconductors worth one yuan can support
electricity capacity of 10 yuan, and create an economic product the size of 100
yuan. He said that China faces unprecedented pressure from the U.S., and China’s international competitiveness lies partly in
how far U.S. regulation goes.
“US technology containment has led some
international organisations to delay -
if not drop entirely -
forecasts that China will become the world’s
No 1 economy,” reported the SCMP.
a report in November of last year, Goldman Sachs predicted that in 2023,
technology regulations by the U.S. could hit the Chinese economy 0.23% points.
Further, it predicted that in the mid term, China’s
GDP could drop 1.7% points, while growth could be undermined 0.4% points per
year in the course of the next four years.
It also presented the outlook
that the short term impact would mostly be reflected in semiconductors and
computers while in the long term if U.S. control of exports were to continue,
China would be impacted even more.
“China’s digital economy
accounts for 39.8 per cent of gross domestic product, but for it to power
future growth, the country needs high-end semiconductor chips,” reported SCMP.
It added that under the surface, pain is already being felt in various
industries from automated vehicles to high-speed computing and even AI, and
that the economic impact is predicted to be even bigger.
Dan Wang, an analyst at Gavekal
Dragonomics, a consulting company, wrote in a report last month that virtually
all Chinese hardware companies most respond to the repercussions of the export
restrictions announced by the U.S. He noted that such restrictions obstructed
the development of China’s semiconductors.
Recently, the Netherlands and
Japan agreed to partake in restricting Chinese supply of advanced semiconductor
equipment, and this has heightened pressure on China’s semiconductor industry.
Previously, Leslie Woo, a semiconductor industry consultant, told SCMP, that “The
United States secured a deal with the Netherlands and
Japan to restrict China’s access to certain advanced chip-making equipment,
dimming Beijing’s hopes of circumventing previous sanctions by importing non-US
technologies…Without foreign technology, it could take at least 20 years for
China to regain lost ground.”
Moreover, this year, the EU is
expected to pass the Semiconductor Act before the end of this year, which is
further intensifying the global semiconductor war. The main point of the EU
Semiconductor Act is to expand public/private investment with the goal of increasing
its market share of global semiconductor production from the current 9% to 20%
China has established the goal
of increasing the independence rate for semiconductors from 30% of 2019 to 70%
in 2025, and has continued to expand investment and support. Last year China’s
R&D expenditure was CNY 4.9 tln, which was 10.4% more than the previous
year, and a historical high. This accounted for about 2.55% of its GDP.
According to Xinhua News, the
government news agency, amidst the ongoing pressure from the U.S., at the end
of last month, the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party discussed plans to
improve technological independence at a closed door meeting. However, a senior
engineer of a foreign invested semiconductor factory said to SCMP that despite
the various incentives and extensive expenditure of the Chinese government,
China will not be able to attract high quality human resources of global
standards, which are essential for the semiconductor industry. Some government
funds shall be wasted on low value-added processes and uncompleted projects. He
noted that there are many investors that want to receive support from the
[Provided by Yonhap News]