China-US Trade Frictions: Can China's homegrown chip industry survive?

时间: 2018-07-13
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The Trump administration has also accused China of stealing US technology, singling out the high tech sector as subject to stricter restrictions. One of the hardest-hit sectors is the chip industry. Can it survive this storm? Our correspondent Ge Yunfei finds out, in South China's Guangzhou.

Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Communication, Rockets. Behind each of these cutting-edge technologies, there is one core component - FPGA, a semiconductor integrated circuit.

ZHU JINGHUI CEO, GOWIN SEMICONDUCTOR "Theoretically, FPGA can deliver all the functionality of other chips like CPU. If you can design FPGA, then you can design all the other chips. So we can say that FPGA is the 'Crown Jewel' in semiconductor chip design."

In 2016, two US companies held almost 90% of the global market share for this advanced tech -- and early this year, when the US banned Chinese telecom giant ZTE from buying American tech products, FPGA chips were on that list.

But now Gowin Semiconductor, a rising startup in China's southern production hub, Guangzhou, is looking to create a homegrown replacement for this coveted production input.

ZHU JINGHUI CEO, GOWIN SEMICONDUCTOR "I think our FPGA chips can fully replace ones produced in the US. It's already been proven by our clients."

Four years ago, seeing the huge potential of China's consumer electronics market, Zhu Jinghui and some other partners founded Gowin with private investment.

ZHU JINGHUI CEO, GOWIN SEMICONDUCTOR "We chose South China because this is the world's largest consumer electronics market. In January 2017, we got our first order of only ten chips. But this year we can expect to sell 10 million chips."

This expanded capacity has made China one of two countries in the world which can make FPGA chips at a viable production volume.

Now Gowin has clients from across the globe, such as Mr. Ferber from Israel.

ISRAEL FERBER DIRECTOR OF SALES, ELDIS TECHNOLOGIES "China is not just to imitate, but also to renovate. Gowin has the direction of going to markets again can fit market that is looking for such product."

GE YUNFEI GUANGZHOU "One of the main goals of the on-going China-US trade war waged by US president Donald Trump is to contain the rapid development of China's tech industry. But experts say, with more and more companies like Gowin, it's almost an unstoppable trend for Chinese tech firms to rise."

PROFESSOR WEI SHAOJUN DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF MICROELECTRONICS TSINGHUA UNIVERSITY "China's development has always been under pressure. None of our achievements ever relied on the mercy of others. The containment against China is always there. So I don't see any difference from the current restrictions to those of the past."

For Gowin though, the trade war doesn't seem to be causing them any trouble.

ZHU JINGHUI CEO, GOWIN SEMICONDUCTOR 'We have full intellectual property rights to our designs and products, so in the short term, the trade war will not affect us."

Zhu Jinghui believes China will one day have its own "Intel" and his company might just be a contender in the future. But the continuing trade war is not doing any country any good. Ge Yunfei, CGTN, Guangzhou.


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