THE ASSOCIATED PRESS:Chip Wars——Tech rivalry underlies US-China trade conflict

 date:2018-5-4 22:15:00          

HONG KONG--Chinese and American officials will be trying to defuse tensions pushing the world's two largest economies toward trade war in meetings beginning Thursday where analysts say chances for a breakthrough seem slim given the two sides' desperate rivalry in strategic technologies.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other U.S. officials including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arrived Thursday for the talks in Beijing. Liu He, President Xi Jinping's top economic adviser, is heading the Chinese side in the talks.

Regardless of the huge U.S. trade deficit often decried by President Donald Trump, Chinese companies are struggling to overtake western industry leaders in advanced technologies, especially for semiconductors, the silicon brains required to run smartphones, connected cars, cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Under Xi, a program known as "Made in China 2025" aims to make China a tech superpower by advancing development of industries that in addition to semiconductors includes artificial intelligence, pharmaceuticals and electric vehicles. The plan mostly involves subsidizing Chinese firms. But it also requires foreign companies to provide key details about their technology to Chinese partners.

Beijing looks unlikely to cede any ground on that strategic blueprint.

"The Made in China 2025 industrial policy concerns China's long-term development plan, so the overall direction won't change at all," said Yu Miaojie, professor at Peking University's National School of Development. Yu says China would rather cut the trade deficit by importing high-tech products from the U.S. that are currently tightly restricted.
U.S. firms gripe that Chinese policies compel them to share technologies in order to gain market access. Those complaints belie Beijing's decades-long, still unsuccessful struggle to catch up, especially in the area of semiconductors.


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