China's Xi calls for tech self-reliance amid US tension

BEIJING — President Xi Jinping said China must resolve issues in key technological fields from the bottom up, state media reported, as the country deals with a growing number of mainly US export controls on advanced technology.

Xi said on Tuesday (Feb 21) during a study session of the 24-person Politburo, one of the top decision-making bodies of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, that China needed to strengthen basic research in science and technology if it is to achieve self-reliance and become a global tech power, state news agency Xinhua reported.

“To cope with international science and technology competition, achieve a high level of self-reliance and self-improvement… we urgently need to strengthen basic research and solve key technology problems from the source,” Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

The call comes as China faces growing headwind in its years-long effort to close the gap with the US and its allies in advanced semiconductor technology.

In January, Japan and the Netherlands agreed to comply with export restrictions against China’s chip sector that the US government had announced in October 2022, media reported.

Initial US sanctions took aim at Chinese purchases of advanced artificial intelligence computing chips, as well as equipment that chip factories could use to produce leading-edge computing chips.

Xi also on Tuesday said it was necessary to grow China’s pool of top-notch tech talent, Xinhua reported, echoing a speech in 2021 where he said that by 2035 China “should rank among the leading countries in the world with respect to our strategic and technological strength and our army of high-quality talent”.

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