Paying for foreign technology talent will yield breakthroughs, benefits for China

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/18 21:53:40

"I have no regrets, even if my former colleagues call me a traitor," an engineer who used to work at Japanese electronics company NEC Corp before joining an unidentified Chinese semiconductor maker told Japan's Sankei newspaper recently.

China will manage to break the blockade imposed by the US, Japan and other forerunners of semiconductor technology, and the first step is attracting overseas talent with favorable salaries and working conditions.

The administration of US President Donald Trump recently barred the purchase of Lattice Semiconductor by an allegedly Chinese-backed company, citing national security concerns. Increasing investment barriers have imposed obstacles for Chinese semiconductor makers seeking merger and acquisition deals with US companies, leaving China few choices other than to pursue a path of independent innovation.

This is not a new situation for China. The country began developing nuclear weapons in the late 1950s based on a road of independent innovation, with a number of Chinese returnees who made great contributions. Currently, China seeks new breakthroughs in the research and development of cutting-edge technologies for the 21st century - such as microchips, engines and batteries - but more resources are now available for the world's second-largest economy beyond returnees' patriotic enthusiasm, as the country pursues a path of independent innovation with the help of overseas talent.

Chinese high-technology companies need to lure world-class talent to develop cutting-edge technologies, a move that will be the best response to the blockade imposed by the US on semiconductor investment.

With China's rise, many domestic companies have gradually developed the ability to offer attractive salaries and working conditions to overseas talent. We believe that these companies will soon become very strong contenders in the global talent market.

Japan's semiconductor sector is in a downward economic cycle, which may offer a good chance for Chinese companies looking for overseas talent. China should not give up the opportunity to go bottom fishing, and it needs to offer favorable salaries to attract foreign high-technology talent from countries like the US, South Korea, Russia and even India.

The money offered to foreign specialists will be insignificant compared with the returns from scientific and technological advances.

Although China made its reputation as the world's factory, every year it spends almost twice as much on imported integrated circuits as on crude oil. Offering government subsidies to companies in the high-technology sector to help them win overseas talent is worth considering.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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