China’s technology innovations won’t be easily suppressed
Published: Mar 23, 2021 04:57 PM
File photo

File photo

In the opening remarks delivered at the high-level strategic China-US dialogue in Anchorage, Alaska, Chinese top diplomat noted that "history will prove that those who seek to strangle China will suffer in the end."

That response to the US government' reckless crackdown on Chinese technology companies in the past two years offered a precise summary of Chinese scientific research community's intensified catch-up efforts in order to break the US' absolute advantage in crucial technology innovations.

In the new digital era, data has become a strategic resource, and computing power has become core competitiveness. In the core areas of key information technologies, the "choke points" for China may be that the US controls data and computing power.

The US' greatest information technology strength lies in its servers and data bases. Almost all the systems of China's critical sectors - banking, telecommunications, transportation and energy - are hooked on US servers. The booming internet business in China is also built on others' foundation. It is firmly controlled by the free US MySQL database and Intel central processing unit (CPU).

But the US' irreplaceability in core areas of key information technologies may not be as secure as the US conceives them to be. Several months ago, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation Limited (CASIC) worked out a plan to replace Oracle's database with its performance improving 40 percent.

The program only costs hundreds of thousands of yuan and three-day work of Chinese engineers, but solved a critical systematic problem, significantly reduced risks of being plugged off. With home-developed software, the solution can replace the US hardware with better performance and lower cost.

In an interview in 2018, Oracle's founder Larry Ellison said the US can't let China cultivate more engineers than the US and let Chinese companies win fierce competition against US companies. Ellison's confidence was built on Oracle's products are broadly used in China's core areas of key information technologies. The replacement of its products is comparable to heart surgery. The cost can reach hundreds of millions of yuan and would take a long time.

CASIC's solution to replace Oracle's data server, it even does not change one line of the application, for other US data bases Sybase, SQL Server, and MySQL, it is easy operation to be replaced.

Ni Guangnan, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, believes that in core areas of key information technology, domestic developed database has broken the dominance of American database for many years, which can help China break the "choke point." Comparing with Oracle and MySQL database, the homegrown database is a major technology progress and become a cornerstone of China's industry system.

In front of China's innovation - from 7nm semiconductor manufacturing to lithography - no restrictions can hold hack and strangle China's technology development. The American technological monopoly will be removed in a few years.

The author is deputy designer director of information technology innovation project under CASIC.
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