Chinese President Xi Jinping has chosen one of his key associates to lead the development of its own high-performance chip industry.
According to sources against the Bloomberg news agency, Xi has appointed his right-hand man Liu He, who was previously the main negotiator in the trade talks between China and the United States.
Liu will lead Beijing’s ambitious program to become self-sufficient in the production of the latest generation of semiconductors. The appointment of Liu shows how important China considers this program. The Chinese chip industry is struggling with US trade sanctions, which means that technology companies such as Huawei Technologies have problems with production.
In addition, other countries such as Taiwan, South Korea and Japan are also developing a new generation of chips. China is the world’s largest user of chips, for electronics such as smartphones and computers, but also for electric cars.
In May, Liu chaired a working group meeting to discuss developing the next-generation chip industry in China. Strengthening the domestic chip industry is part of Beijing’s new five-year plan. The government has reportedly earmarked a trillion dollars to fund this. Liu must now coordinate this extensive program.
At another meeting with many top scientists, he said that technological innovation is about growth and a “question of survival” for China. Liu, 69, is also China’s deputy prime minister and directs other key government economic and technology programs. He also heads the China Financial Supervision Committee. Liu has known President Xi since childhood. They are both sons of former leaders of the Communist Party in the People’s Republic. Liu studied at the well-known Harvard University in the US.
China and the US fought a trade war under former US President Donald Trump. Liu was the chief negotiator on the preliminary trade deal with Trump in January last year.