Beijing earmarks US$1.4tn in bid to become tech titan
Beijing is accelerating its bid for global leadership in key technologies, planning to pump some US$1.4 trillion (HK$10.92 trillion) into the economy through the rollout of everything from wireless networks to artificial intelligence.
In the masterplan backed by President Xi Jinping himself, China will invest an estimated US$1.4 trillion over six years to 2025, calling on urban governments and private tech giants like Huawei Technologies to lay fifth-generation wireless networks, install cameras and sensors, and develop AI software that will underpin autonomous driving to automated factories and mass surveillance.
The tech investment push is part of a fiscal package waiting to be signed off by China's legislature, which convenes this week. The government is expected to announce infrastructure funding of as much as US$563 billion this year, against the backdrop of the country's worst economic performance since the Mao era.
Meanwhile, US regulators are open to making changes to close what some see as a loophole in a new rule aimed at curbing global chip sales to blacklisted Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies, two US officials said on Wednesday.
The new rule, unveiled by the Commerce Department on Friday, expands US authority to require licenses for sales to Huawei of semiconductors made abroad with US technology, amplifying the department's reach to halt exports to the world's No 2 smartphone maker.
But the rule only includes chips designed by Huawei and does not cover shipments if they are sent directly to Huawei's customers. Some industry lawyers see this as a significant loophole.
Asked on Wednesday about the potential for adjusting the rule to close that gap, State Department official Christopher Ashley Ford said the rule itself would provide regulators with the insight to determine if it should be altered.
A rare ethanol shipment of US origin is expected to arrive in China this month, according to three industry sources and shipping data, probably the first such cargo since the two countries struck an initial trade deal in January.
The market has been watching closely for signs of renewed trade in biofuel after China waived some additional tariffs on 696 American products, ethanol among them, to support purchases of US farm goods, after the signing of the Phase One trade deal.