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China's Pursuit of Semiconductor Independence

战略与国际研究中心:中国对半导体独立的追求



【译者注:战略与国际研究中心,是美国具有保守色彩的重要战略和政策研究机构,素有“强硬路线者之家”和“冷战思想库”之称,于1962年成立,是现在美国国内规模最大的国际问题研究机构,是对共和党政府具有重大影响力的智库之一。】

While China has made immense investments in science and technology, and while these are producing results, it is still dependent on Western technology. This is particularly true for semiconductors. China’s dependence on foreign semiconductors has worried Beijing for decades. China suspects that Western semiconductors contain “backdoors,” intentional vulnerabilities that can be exploited for intelligence and military purposes. In 2016, President Xi Jinping said, “the fact that core technology is controlled by others is our greatest hidden danger.” Vice Premier Ma Kai said at the 2018 National People’s Congress, “We cannot be reliant on foreign chips.”1 China intends to end this dependence, but despite 40 years of investment and espionage, it is unable to make advanced semiconductors. Along the way, there have been embarrassing frauds and expensive failures.

虽然中国在科学和技术上进行了巨大的投资,而且这些投资正在产生成果,但中国仍然于依赖西方的技术。半导体尤其如此。数十年来,中国对外国半导体的依赖一直令北京方面担忧。中国怀疑西方半导体存在“后门”,可以被西方用于情报和军事目的。2016年,中国主席表示:“核心技术被他人控制是我们最大的隐患。”国务院副总理在2018年全国人民代表大会上表示:“我们不能依赖外国芯片。”中国打算结束这种依赖,但尽管中国进行了40年的投资和间谍活动,却无法制造先进的半导体。在此过程中,出现了令人尴尬的欺骗和代价高昂的失败。



Today, only 16 percent of the semiconductors used in China are produced in-country, and only half of these are made by Chinese firms. It is dependent on foreign suppliers for advanced chips. China aims to produce 40 percent of the semiconductors it uses by 2020 and 70 percent by 2025.

如今,中国使用的半导体只有16%是在国内生产的,而其中只有一半是由中国公司生产的。它的先进芯片依赖于外国供应商。中国的目标是到2020年生产40%的半导体,到2025年生产70%。

“China 2025” has become a catchphrase for China’s aggressive industrial policy and something of a hobgoblin for policy-makers, but we should not take yet another report by Chinese planners too seriously. China routinely cranks out economic plans; what counts is not the plan but the money. The total planned investment in semiconductors is $118 billion over five years, including $60 billion from provincial and municipal governments (although government investments in China can suffer from politicization and corruption). For comparison, leading Western firms also invest billions annually in research and development (R&D). Intel invests over $13 billion while Samsung and Qualcomm invested over $3 billion each. Huawei spends about $15 billion and ZTE about $1.9 billion.

“中国制造2025”已经成为中国激进产业政策的标语,对政策制定者来说,它就像一个可怕的东西,但我们不应该对中国规划者的报告过于严肃。中国经常制定经济计划; 重要的不是计划而是钱。未来五年半导体投资计划总额为1180亿美元。相比之下,领先的西方公司每年也在研发上投入数十亿美元。英特尔投资超过130亿美元,三星和高通各投资超过30亿美元。华为和中兴分别斥资约150亿美元和19亿美元。



The long-standing debate about whether China could become an innovation power appears to be over (with two significant caveats). The first is that successful Chinese innovation is still limited by the country’s relative technological backwardness. The second caveat is that Chinese innovation blossomed in a period of relative political openness. Now that openness is shrinking under Xi Jinping and has been accompanied by greater state economic direction, it is possible that the trend of increasing Chinese innovation will slow or reverse.

关于中国能否成为创新大国的长期争论似乎已经结束。首先,中国的成功创新仍然受到技术相对落后的限制。第二,中国的创新是在相对政治开放的时期蓬勃发展起来的。如今,在中国主席的领导下,中国的开放程度正在缩小,同时国家经济也在朝着更大的方向发展,中国创新增长的趋势可能会放缓或逆转。

Both China and the United States have advantages and disadvantages in what is a contest over governance as well as investment and research. The multinational nature of research and innovation complicates any national competition for technological leadership and will create forces that both states will find difficult to control. A globally-oriented U.S. industry may have an advantage over a nationally-focused China.

中美两国在治理、投资和研究方面的竞争各有利弊。研究和创新的跨国性质使任何国家争夺技术领先地位的竞争复杂化,而且会产生两国都难以控制的力量。以全球为导向的美国产业可能比以全国为中心的中国产业更有优势。

China’s technology sector has vulnerabilities. Centrally-directed economies are less efficient, since government policy supplants market signals on where to invest. Easy access to credit allows inefficient firms to survive, draining resources from more productive activities. Previous rounds of semiconductor investment in China saw new firms (often funded by provincial or municipal governments) close after a few years.

中国的技术领域存在漏洞。中央主导型经济的效率较低,因为政策取代了市场对投资方向的指示。容易获得信贷使效率低下的公司得以生存,从而挤占了更有生产效率的企业的资源。在中国之前的几轮半导体投资中,新公司(中国出资)几年后就倒闭了。



Nineteenth century Chinese reformers asked whether it was possible to absorb Western technology without also absorbing Western political ideas. At the risk of tremendous oversimplification, the answer was ultimately no. China’s Communist Party faces a similar problem, but with greatly enhanced tools of social control and surveillance, it expects to avoid a similar fate.

19世纪,中国的改革家们提出了这样一个问题:在吸收西方技术的同时,是否可能不吸收西方的政治思想?冒着极度简单化的风险,最终答案是否定的。

Semiconductors and microelectronics are part of interdependent manufacturing network centered on the Pacific Rim. Disentangling this integrated supply chain, created under more favorable political conditions, will be difficult for the United States, since many U.S. chip companies either have facilities in China or rely on Chinese companies for lower level functions like testing. Interdependence will also hamper China’s efforts to build a national industry, since competitive advantage lies with the internationally distributed supply chains.

在环太平洋地区,半导体和微电子是相互依赖的制造网络的一部分。由于许多美国芯片公司要么在中国拥有设备,要么依靠中国公司来完成测试等较低级别的功能,这条综合供应链是在更为有利的政治环境下建立起来的,因此,对美国来说,想要分开它是很困难的。这种相互依赖也将阻碍中国构建民族产业的努力,因为竞争优势在于国际分布的供应链。



This report is part of the CSIS China Innovation Policy Series (CIPS) made possible by general support from Japan External Trade Organization, Semiconductor Industry Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, General Electric Foundation, and the Smith Richardson Foundation.

本报告是战略与国际研究中心讨论中国创新政策系列的一部分,由日本对外贸易组织、半导体工业协会、美国商会、微软、通用电气基金会和史密斯理查森基金会共同支持。