(Yicai Global) March 8 -- Nurturing a bigger and better workforce in the semiconductor industry, becoming self-reliant in chip technologies and other pressing issues in the integrated circuit sector are being put under the spotlight by business leaders and high-profile academics attending the ongoing annual meetings of China’s top political and legislative bodies.
China should develop its own independent and controllable IC technology, support the synchronized development of semiconductor manufacturing and design, promote the use of artificial intelligence in the chip sector and improve the ecology of the industry, said Zhang Ying, deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Informatization.
Zhang is one of a huge number of delegates from the IC and related industries attending the Two Sessions in Beijing, much more than in previous years. Chen Tianshi, chairman of AI chip startup Cambricon Technologies, Jiang Bin, chairman of Goertek, as well as Wang Xiqin, president of Tsinghua University, are also present, Yicai Global has learned.
More effort needs to be made to nurture high-level talent, said Deng Zhonghan, founder of Vimicro Group. China’s semiconductor industry is short of over 700,000 skilled workers, including 40,000 highly qualified professionals. It not only lacks backbone expertise but also general engineering and technology talent.
"This year's Two Sessions has elevated the IC industry to a critical level, with particular emphasis on promoting the industry through government support and focused efforts," said He Hui, a chip analyst at UK market research firm Omdia.
More IC departments need to be set up in universities to train innovative and well-rounded talent, said Liu Zhongfan, an academic at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The country should also cultivate leading enterprises, avoid the waste of resources and prevent the repetitaion of low-level chip projects.
The government should prioritize "controllable" technology over "independent" technology when formulating industry policies, said Zhang Suxin, chairman of chip foundry Hua Hong Group, adding that the nurturing of more chip talent is very important.
China should set its own technological barriers in the global chip supply chain by accumulating patents and managing their overseas use, Li Shushen, president of the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences who was also at the meetings, said in a report released last month.
Leading businesses should be given a bigger role to play as "they can affect the government's formulation of industrial planning and funding allocation due to their technical strengths and operational capabilities," a chip industry veteran said.
"The operational ability of enterprises is better than that of the government and academic experts, as long as fairness and transparency as well as strict supervision and auditing are enforced," the person added.
Editors: Tang Shihua, Kim Taylor