All about chips . . .
COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of digital technology and supply chain disruptions, furthering the ongoing competition between China and the U.S. In a bipartisan effort last week, the U.S. Congress introduced the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America Act (CHIPS for America Act). The new legislation promises more than US$20 billion (C$27 billion) for domestic semiconductor research and manufacturing over the next decade. The proposed bill is yet another attempt by Washington to stem the increasing global influence of Chinese technology.
Wooing a whole industry . . .
Semiconductors are a foundational component in all current and new technologies – from smartphones to cloud computing and artificial intelligence – and are considered a critical factor in the technological competition between Beijing and Washington. The U.S. remains an industry leader and among the largest semiconductor exporters, while China still lags. Beijing has attempted to catch up through its ‘Made in China 2025’ industrial policy, investing billions into developing a self-sufficient semiconductor industry and raising alarms abroad. In addition to the new legislation, Washington has been pressuring semiconductor manufacturers elsewhere, including South Korea’s Samsung and Taiwan’s TSMC, to move their production to the U.S. on the grounds of national security. As a result, TSMC is considering building a factory in Arizona, contingent on U.S. funding promised in the new act.
Widening rift between tech leaders . . .
With a presidential election on the horizon, Washington is ramping up its efforts to undermine Beijing’s technology base and crack down on U.S. research ties with China, especially with its military. Last week, U.S. officials arrested a Chinese military officer researching in California and confiscated his work. The Trump administration has also blacklisted the Harbin Institute of Technology, known as ‘China’s MIT,’ cutting exchange programs and research collaboration with all U.S. universities. As countries increasingly turn to technology in the context of COVID-19, Canada and other advocates for the responsible development of new technologies will have to manoeuvre within an increasingly fierce and protectionist global technology ecosystem, marked by a growing divide between the two tech leaders.
- New York Times: Lawmakers push to invest billions in semiconductor industry to counter China
- Nikkei Asian Review: US blacklists ‘China’s MIT’ e as tech war enters new phase
- South China Morning Post: Chinese military officer arrested, charged with visa fraud as he tries to leave United States