A most interesting press release came out from Huawei Technologies, courtesy of SCMP, today: “We will eventually retake our throne in the smartphone market, while continuing to improve our chip-making capabilities.”
This is quite a change of tone from the company, which has recently been emphasizing that it is in “survival mode”. It is likely to have been spurred by significant government support. Indeed, as mentioned last week, it is highly likely that Huawei is at the center of the Guangdong government’s new Five-Year Plan for semiconductors. It is the region’s only aspiring world-class tech company that has a strong foundation in both hardware and software, and the organisational capability to even begin to know how to grow an advanced semiconductor industry.
It will be interesting to see how the US government responds. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who appears to be positioning himself for a presidential campaign with a tough stance on China, is already on the warpath against Tik Tok after the Chinese government’s recent acquisition of a stake and board seat. But more importantly, the Commerce Department is currently reviewing its Entity List, which is what started Huawei’s downfall back in May 2019. Will it take a closer look at the Guangdong Five-Year Plan and consider whether it needs to examine Huawei’s supply chain more carefully? It should become clear in the coming months.
Local media in Guangdong have been poring over the province’s latest Five-Year Plan for industrial upgrading, which has unveiled the goal of becoming a “semiconductor manufacturing powerhouse”, according to Trivium, a Beijing-based consultancy.
This covers every aspect of the supply chain, naturally:
Key semiconductor materials
Design software for high-end chips
Advanced fabrication technologies
Advanced packaging and testing
High-end chip manufacturing equipment
The challenge for the province, and indeed for the entire Greater Bay Area, is how to do this when its historical strengths have not been deployed in anything remotely like what is now being expected of it.
A bicyle that uses AI and lidar sensors to help riders avoid crashes and ride more carefully is under development at Huawei, the GBA tech giant headquartered in Shenzhen. But it wasn’t a product that came out of the company’s regular R&D department. According to local media, the bike, which will cost around 10,000 yuan when launched, was designed by a recent university graduate who came up through Huawei’s youth-development program.
Referred to by local media as “Huawei’s boy wonder”, Jun Zhihui graduated from the University of Electronic Science and Technology, in Chengdu, Sichuan, in 2018. After a few years kicking around, which included a stint at smartphone maker Oppo, based in Dongguan, Jun joined Huawei’s “Talented Youth Project” last year and had been engaged as an AI systems architect.
The bike apparently allows for full self-riding, which is hard to imagine, because of the obvious ease of falling off a two-wheeler when its onboard computer decides to change direction. But in its description, the bike is more realistically useful for collision avoidance and route planning. It might also help to have an “auto-follow” function that allows for the bike to come to its owner, rather like Tesla’s “summons” feature.
A glance at the financial scorecard of Shenzhen’s publicly listed companies in the most recent quarter shows an impressive performance: Across 393 companies, listed on six stock exchanges at home and abroad, revenues rose by 13.05%, profits by a whopping 33.08%, YoY.
Markets were buoyant today as speculation rose that a US-China trade deal was imminent
No deal was done by the time everyone went to bed
in Washington, but the US president had made some encouraging
suggestions earlier in the day that they were close.
That followed a New York Times report
that the US government plans to soon issue licenses allowing some American
companies to supply “nonsensitive goods” to Huawei Technologies. In a meeting
last week, President Trump gave the green light to begin approving the
licenses, which will allow a select few American companies to bypass a ban
placed on Huawei this year.
Huawei Technologies is looking far and wide, high and low, for talent. As we have written recently about its Dongguan campus, which aims to attract PhDs from all over the world, the company is determined to become reliant on resources within the borders of its home country. Its latest step in this quest has led it to Jiangmen, the GBA municipality on the western side of the Bay.
The Jiangmen Vocational College signed an agreement with Huawei yesterday to “explore the integration of production and education”. What this means in plain terms is that they will jointly build the Huawei Institute of Information and Network Technology, otherwise known as the Huawei ICT Academy.
It’s only a RMB7 million investment, but it was enough to get the district mayor out for th signing ceremony, according to Nanfang Daily.
There is a lot of rhetoric in the press statement, so it’s hard to know exactly what is different about this collaborative agreement than a standard classroom or building sponsored by a tech giant. It seems that Huawei will basically have first access to any budding AI talent that emerges from the district. It’s all in the name of the GBA, needless to say.
We thought there was something strange about Huawei’s recent decision to set up its major hub for Kunpeng, the new “chip ecosystem” it is developing, in Shanghai.
Why there? Huawei is a son of Shenzhen. We can understand why it would build a new campus in Dongguan’s Songshan Lake, as that is literally just up the road from its headquarters in Shenzhen’s Longgang district. But Shanghai is on the eastern seaboard, part of the Yangtze River Delta and is Shenzhen’s biggest competitor, er, comrade.
Passengers taking the high-speed railway between Guangzhou and Hong Kong will soon be in for a treat. Before the next Spring Festival (known to foreigners as Chinese New Year), the train journey will be experienced almost entirely on a 5G network.
Huawei What? Huawei Technologies has now secured more than 50 commercial contracts worldwide for fifth-generation mobile networks, and almost two-thirds of the world’s 5G base stations are built by the company, according to a senior executive, quoted by Yicai Global. The firm also expects to deploy 65 million 5G base stations globally by 2025, serving 2.8 billion users. Read more.
London or Bust? Hong Kong’s richest may be fully behind their embattled CE since being called across the border for a fireside chat with HKMAO Director Zhang Xiaoming, but they are hedging their bets in record numbers by applying for “golden visas” to the UK. Read more.
Gree-Xiaomi Bet Back On? Doug Young has a good column on Caixin Global about the two billionaires renewing their billion-yuan bet, while he wonders out loud about both of their companies. Read more.
Radio GBA: China Daily reports that the Greater Bay Area has its own radio station. Sadly, China Media Group doesn’t think foreigners are the target audience, and so it is in Cantonese, Hakka and Teochew. Read more.