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China Aims to Become Independent ‘Technology Power’

    2020/10/29

    China’s leaders have announced plans to intensify efforts to make the country an independent “technology power.”

    The announcement comes as China faces American government restrictions on sales of some American technology products.

    In a statement this week, the ruling Communist Party said “science and technology should be self-reliant as a strategic support for national development.” It promised to speed up “the building of a science and technology power.”

    People view laptop computers from Chinese tech firm Huawei at the PT Expo in Beijing, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
    People view laptop computers from Chinese tech firm Huawei at the PT Expo in Beijing, Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

    The announcement came after Chinese leaders met to create a five-year development plan for the state-directed economy.

    China’s Five-Year Plans, issued since the 1950s, are made to guide the rules and industry goals for the country’s economy in coming years. The Communist Party still heavily influences China’s economy, even after 40 years of policies aimed at making the system more market-driven. The full Five-Year Plan is set to be released in March.

    Thursday’s statement promised to support “green and low-carbon development” and to raise Chinese living standards. It also called for steps to strengthen the 2.3 million-member People’s Liberation Army.

    The statement said China faces a complex international situation.

    China’s factories build most of the world’s smartphones, personal computers and electronics products. But they need electronic and computing parts from American, European and Japanese suppliers. Experts say Chinese leaders see that as a strategic weakness.

    The statement did not name any technologies. But China is especially worried about the country’s dependence on American providers of processor devices called chips. Chips are used in smartphones, electric cars and other technologies central to their development plans.

    Chips are China’s biggest single import by value, ahead of crude oil.

    Last year the United States ordered restrictions that blocked the sale of chips and most other technology for China’s Huawei company. Huawei is one of the world’s largest telecommunications equipment suppliers and a top producer of smartphones.

    U.S. officials have expressed concerns about Huawei’s links to the Chinese government. They say the company’s equipment could be used for spying. Huawei says the equipment is not used for that.

    Earlier this year, the U.S. barred manufacturers from using American technology to produce chips for Huawei, including those designed by its own engineers. Huawei’s earnings still rose nearly 10 percent over a year earlier in the quarter ending in September. But Huawei officials have said its sales of smartphones and network equipment are likely to suffer.

    In September, the U.S. Commerce Department further blocked China’s efforts to develop its own chipmakers. It did so by restricting technology sales to the country’s largest chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation.

    I’m Bryan Lynn.

    The Associated Press reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    reliant – adj. to depend on someone or something

    strategic – adj. helping to achieve a plan, usually in business or politics

    chip – n. a very small part of a computer that stores information