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Shanghai has sharpened its focus on manpower training for the semiconductor industry, as Washington’s latest hi-tech restrictions impact the country’s chip talent pool. Image: Shutterstock

Tech war: Shanghai launches new campus to train personnel for semiconductor sector as US curbs decrease China’s chip talent pool

  • The Lingang Special Area has teamed up with Shanghai University and the city’s Integrated Circuit Industry Association to set up the new campus
  • It marks the third such training campus set up in Shanghai, following those established in Jiading district and in the town of Zhangjiang
The municipal government of Shanghai, China’s largest city and semiconductor highland, has launched a new campus to train fresh talent for the domestic chip industry, as the country casts a wide net for skilled personnel after Washington’s latest hi-tech restrictions.
The Lingang Special Area, part of the Chinese metropolis’ vast free-trade zone, joined forces with Shanghai University and the city’s Integrated Circuit Industry Association to set up the training facility where new talent for the semiconductor sector would be trained, according to a statement on Tuesday by local authorities in Lingang.

It marked the third such campus set up in Shanghai, following one established in Jiading district in late September and another in August at Zhangjiang, a town in Pudong district that is known as the city’s own “Silicon Valley”, where a hi-tech industrial estate is located.

These moves have come after Shanghai rolled out a slew of generous incentives in January, as part of the city’s policy to attract new talent and companies that form part of the semiconductor supply chain. One the programmes under this policy is training both senior university students who have not studied microelectronics and veteran workers who have not been involved in chip assembly.
A wide aerial view of the Lingang Special Area, part of Shanghai’s vast free-trade zone. Photo: Shutterstock

Shanghai’s sharpened focus on manpower training for the semiconductor industry reflects the urgency brought by the impact of Washington’s latest hi-tech restrictions on the country’s chip sector.

The new campus is expected to bolster Lingang’s hopes to transform the area into a “world-class base for the integrated circuit industry”, similar to Silicon Valley in California, Taiwan and Gyeonggi-do province in South Korea, according to Lu Yu, deputy director of the hi-tech and industrial development division of the Lingang Special Area Management Committee, at an event on Monday to mark the launch of the new campus.
An untapped 119.5 square kilometre area in Lingang was included in Shanghai’s vast free-trade zone in 2019. The area has so far attracted more than 180 companies, such as Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp and Shanghai GTA Semiconductor, and a total investment of more than 290 billion yuan (US$39.70 billion), Lu said.

US citizens at Chinese chip firms caught in the middle of tech war

The latest restrictions announced by the US Department of Commerce earlier this month cover rules that “restrict the ability of US persons to support the development or production” of chips at “certain China-located semiconductor fabrication ‘facilities’ without a licence”.

While specifics on implementation remain unclear, the rules may cast a shadow over technology personnel either holding US citizenship or permanent residency at Chinese chip companies.

China’s semiconductor self-sufficiency drive is widely known to be hampered by chronic shortage of talent in the industry. About 40 per cent of the country’s chip sector professionals live in Shanghai as of August, according to official statistics.