The Chinese government has reiterated its support for the massive roll-out of 5G networks in the country and development of a local chip industry as the world’s second largest economy looks for ways to boost growth amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We will continue to support China Unicom and China Telecom to co-build a 200 Mbps broadband stand-alone 5G network,” Wen Ku, head of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said in a briefing on Thursday. “This will be the world’s most advanced network.”
As of the end of June, China’s top three carriers China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom – which together serve more than 1.6 billion mobile users in the country – had installed 400,000 5G base stations against an annual target of 500,000, according to Wen. China Mobile and China Telecom agreed last year to co-build 5G networks to reduce pressure on their capital expenditure.
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The government backing comes at a time when China and the US are battling for global dominance in cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G mobile technology, and Internet of Things (IOT), which are considered necessary tools and abilities to compete in the global economy.
Wen said 5G phone sales have been promising, with total shipments of 86.2 million so far this year. Of that, 66 million 5G handsets were operating on 5G networks at the end of June.
As Chinese vendors such as Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo double down on efforts to increase their domestic market share by increasing supply, prices of low-to-medium-end 5G phones are expected to drop to around 1,000 yuan (US$143). In comparison, Xiaomi’s budget Redmi series 5G-enabled phones currently start at around 1599 yuan.
Xin Guobin, the vice-minister of Industry and Information Technology, said in the briefing that China will support new energy vehicle (NEV) development by encouraging development of battery replacement and advanced charging technology.
Wen said the development of 5G has been a boon for China’s semiconductor manufacturing industry, which produced more than 100 billion integrated circuit chips in the first half of the year, up 16.4 per cent year on year.
“A large number of integrated circuit products, especially high-quality ones, are being used in the construction of 5G,” Wen added.
China’s securities regulators have been scrambling to approve listings of semiconductor companies on the tech-heavy Star market in Shanghai in response to fears that the US could further restrain China’s access to the global chipmaking industry.
In May Washington introduced a new rule that restricted Huawei from buying products from the world’s No 1 wafer foundry, TSMC, as part of the US campaign to curb the Chinese company’s dominance in 5G. In anticipation of the move, Huawei placed a large order with TSMC before the new rule and now has enough 5G base station chips to last until the end of 2021, according to a Jefferies report on Monday.
Wen said China aims to speed up development of the semiconductor industry by encouraging cooperation between academia and industry, and by training more talent.
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This article Chinese officials reiterate support for 5G, semiconductor sectors amid tech war with US first appeared on South China Morning Post