China is playing down its ambitions for the semiconductor industry and arguing that Washington’s concerns over the issue are overblown, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“There’s been unnecessary panic,” Peng Hongbing, vice director of information technology at China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, was quoted as saying in an interview.
“We don’t want the U.S. and China to have these conflicts.”
China has been alarmed at the US backlash toward Beijing’s efforts to advance its chip sector, especially since many of the programs are still on the drawing board, Peng told the Journal.
One of the flashpoints between Washington and Beijing is the tiny chips that power computers used in everything from smartphones to missiles.
They represent the technological self-sufficiency that China seeks and the manufacturing might that the US wants to retain, the Journal noted.
Responding to concerns by US chipmakers, the Obama administration in its final year began taking a harder look at the flood of Chinese money into the sector, blocking one deal in December.
The departing White House estimated this month that China was investing US$150 billion over the next decade to support its chip industry.
The hard line against China’s chip ambitions is expected to continue under the Donald Trump administration.
Wilbur Ross, Trump’s choice for Commerce Secretary, said in a confirmation hearing last week that he is “very, very concerned” about China’s chip investments.
Peng said the US$150 billion number includes projects that may never get funded and “far, far” exceeds what China’s government is actually spending.
But he defended Beijing’s chip-sector development, saying the country needs to reduce its dependence on imports.
According to Chinese customs data, the country imported US$228 billion worth of integrated circuits last year.
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