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China technology

Shanghai aiming big at spearheading technology breakthroughs

City is compiling an ambitious blueprint to ramp up its integrated circuit industry, bolster its advanced manufacturing prowess, and attract the best talent

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 8:34am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 May, 2018, 4:33pm

Shanghai officials have vowed to focus on further developing the city’s chip and other advanced manufacturing industries, promising a series of tailor-made policies aimed at attracting the best talent.

In a briefing on Monday, Chen Mingbo, head of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Information Technology, said the Shanghai government is now accelerating the compilation of a blueprint on developing its integrated circuit (IC) sector, adding the city is well-placed in the highly capital-intensive sectors, in an attempt to narrow the gap with advanced nations.

Chen’s comments come as Shenzhen-based technology giant ZTE, a leader in smartphone and telecoms equipment, said it has applied to the US Commerce Department to suspend a seven-year ban on it doing business with US technology exporters.

The Chinese company said in a statement late on Sunday it had “formally submitted” a request to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security for a “stay of the Denial Order.”

It said it sent the bureau “supplemental information” following the ban. It gave no details in its brief statement. ZTE was hit with the ban in a case involving alleged exports of telecom gear to Iran and North Korea. The company has said that the ban threatens its existence, by cutting off access to US suppliers of key components, such as microchips.

In addition to its talent policy, the city government will also better align technology companies with the financial sector, Chen said, and work with neighbouring provinces in the Yangtze River Delta to build up its strength in the IC sector.

Chen added the central government has pinned its hopes on Shanghai, while Shanghai also needs to shoulder its own responsibility.

An integrated circuit (ICs), is small microchip that can function as an amplifier, oscillator, timer, microprocessor, or even computer memory.

In key areas including integrated circuits and artificial intelligence, Shanghai aims to build up its talent pool with preferential policies that meet their specific needs, or a “one individual, one policy” offering, according to the city government.

It reflects how far the commercial and economic capital on the mainland plans to go to ramp up its “Made-in-Shanghai” reputation, especially in smart, quality and high-end manufacturing.

China is still playing catch-up with advanced nations in the IC industry and some say the gap is even widening, despite years of efforts.

Chen stressed that Shanghai already has the best fundamentals in the sector in China, in terms of the integrity of an industry chain, strength in IC design, manufacturing and equipment.

“Core technology can’t be obtained through begging for alms, nor can it be bought,” he said, stressing the city will focus on making breakthroughs in IC and aviation engines on its own, and trim reliance on the outside world.