The flagship newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party has called for China’s tech sector to reduce its dependence upon imported technology amidst escalating trade tensions with the United States, as well as the creation of its own independent chip sector and software operating system.
The People’s Daily editorial entitled “Launching a New Wave of Innovation Before the Gaze of the World” (开启全球视野下的创新浪潮) calls for China to embark upon a “fresh round of independent innovation, and enable key sectors such as silicon chips, operating systems as well as high-end manufacturing equipment to no longer be secretly concerned about ‘chokeholds.'”
The publication of the editorial coincides with a sharp escalation in trade tensions between China and the US, which has culminated in a ban on the sale of hi-tech goods and services by American companies to Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE due to the breach of sanctions against Iran.
ZTE’s peer Huawei is also under investigation by the FBI for similar infractions of sanctions directed at Iran.
The potential impact of a US embargo on China’s tech sector has heightened calls for China to achieve greater technological independence, with Jack Ma recently opining that the country needs to avoid “over-dependence upon imports.”
For the People’s Daily, this not only means the development of a mature integrated circuit industry, it also means the creation of China’s own independent operating software system.
“If we say that chips are the ‘central nervous system’ of computers, then operating systems are the foundation that enables computer hardware to possess a ‘soul,'” said the editorial.
“As the most fundamental and basic computer software, operating systems are extremely important…the research and development of a domestic operating system which is as widely used as Microsoft Windows is the long-cherished dream of China’s STEM personnel.
“Following arduous handwork, we have achieved some successes including Kylin and Puhua, yet the research and development of a common-use system as well as its widespread application is far more difficult than expected.
“However, the successful development of an operating system harbours immense value…it can provide an upstream and downstream ecological chain and industrial space that encompasses hardware developers, software developers and users…at the same time, it can also build a fortress for our successors.”
The editorial also stresses the importance of technological independence from a national security perspective, referring to “core technologies” as “key tools of the state.”
“‘Without internet security there is no national security…achieving breakthroughs in the core technologies of the IT sector means preserving internet security, and accelerating the creation of a great internet power.”