On a university campus on the outskirts of Hong Kong, a group of engineers are designing computer chips that they hope will be used in next-generation Chinese-made smartphones.
Patrick Yue, wearing a Stanford University shirt, leaned back in his chair in a cafe on campus. The chief engineer and professor managing the project.
The research team designs optical communication chips that use light instead of electrical signals to transmit information and are needed on 5G mobile phones and other Internet-connected devices.
He told me about China's difficulties in developing a computer chip industry that was thrown into the world.
“In fact, I think the main designers will have a bottle neck as large as production. We don't have nearly as many research institutes and industry bases to train designers. ”
The department was funded by the Chinese communications and telecom giant Huawei, located at the center of an international political storm.
In May, the US added security concerns by adding Huawei to a list of companies that US companies would not be able to trade unless they obtained a license.
Competitors are an in-depth season on the BBC News about the competition between US and China over trade, technology, defense and soft power.
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Many industry observers fear that the US-China trade war runs the risk of resolving the global technology supply chain.
In particular, China relies on overseas companies for computer chips (or semiconductors), which are small devices used in everything from consumer electronics to military equipment.
Olarak Everything can be used politically as a bargaining power, Bay says Mr. Yue.
"If these companies and countries start to protect technology, everyone will be harmed. Not technologically good," Yue says.
China has not made the secret of its desire to be self-sufficient in technology. The country is the world's largest importer and consumer of semiconductors.
It currently produces only 16% of the semiconductors that feed the technology explosion.
However, they have plans to produce an ambitious plan that encourages 40% of the semiconductors used by 2020 and 70% of the 2025 trade war with the United States.
In May 2018, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with the country's leading scientists and engineers and called for experts to try to build confidence in the production of core technologies.
It was only a month after the US government banned US companies from selling parts to ZTE, China's second largest telecom network equipment manufacturer.
The ban stressed China's leaders that the country's technology boom depends on foreign technology.
In October this year, the Chinese government created a $ 29 billion (£ 22 million) fund to support the semiconductor industry in its latest proposal to drive the country's technology sector away from US technology.
Piero Scaruffi, a Silicon Valley historian;
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“Certainly, Huawei can develop its own chips and operating systems, and the government can be confident that it will succeed in China. But Huawei and other Chinese phone manufacturers are also successful in foreign markets, and that's a completely different question: Will Huawei's chips and operating systems as competitive as Qualcomm and Android? Probably not. At best, it will take years before them, "says Scaruffi.
Mr. Scaruffi estimates that China can remain behind the leading high-end computer chip manufacturers for 10 years. Most chips produced for high-end electronics are manufactured by specialized foundries such as the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). It produces more than 70% of chips designed by third-party companies.
It is difficult to secure the best machines needed to make only high-end chips.
Çok Very precise equipment to start the equipment. You need to print very good features. The equipment needed to have this kind of technology is controlled by several companies around the world, Bay says Mr. Yue.
He believes that Chinese technology has three to four generations behind companies like TSMC. China says it lacks industry experience to produce high-end chips. However, companies like Huawei believe that they are already competitive in plug design.
Where does this technology leave Huawei?
Mr. Yue argues that Huawei is trying to replicate the successful business models of companies such as Samsung, who produce their own computer chips, rather than obeying Beijing's industrial goals.
Neredeyse You almost see them as an integrated company with the expertise Apple or Qualcomm has, Bay says Mr. Yue.
Li Changzhu is Huawei's lifelong employee and president of the company's handset business. He joined the company 23 years ago as a new graduate and watched him become an international technology giant. He claims that companies like Huawei only aim to meet consumer needs.
Sitting next to a technology conference in Macau, "We are welcome to use chipsets from other manufacturers. , a semi-autonomous city of southern China.
Growth in the semiconductor industry typically results from disruptive new technologies. The introduction of smartphones in the late 2000s increased the demand for small integrated circuits that control everything from memory to Bluetooth and wifi.
But today, China's passion for dominating sectors such as artificial intelligence and 5G is expected to further increase demand for high-end chips.
Industry analysts like Mr. Scaruffi are questioning China's ability to truly innovate. "Every Chinese city wants to build its own Silicon Valley. It tends to move more from above. It was a great advantage that the Silicon Valley was far from political power," says Scaruffi.
He believes that China's technological success lies in the implementation of technology rather than creation.
Kaç If your metr is how many people use smartphones to go shopping, then China has won big time. But if your metric is the Nobel Prize winner, then China is losing very badly. Of course, China has been very successful in applying technology strikingly changes the society, "he says.