Xi Focuses on Tech Self-Reliance on Trip to Southern China

(Bloomberg) — Chinese President Xi Jinping renewed his call for the world’s No. 2 economy to pursue self-reliance across a range of key industries during a trip this week to the southern province of Guangdong that highlighted his top priorities as he embarks on his third term.

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“Achieving high-standard self-reliance in science and technology is key to advancing Chinese modernization,” Xi said during a meeting with officials from the ruling Communist Party on Thursday, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

He called for “further steps to enhance independent innovation capacity and make greater progress in achieving breakthroughs in core technologies in key fields.” Xi’s trip included stops at the plants of LG Display Co. in Guangzhou and GAC AION New Energy Automobile Co., and visits to a key port and farming facilities.

The Chinese president’s comments underscore his determination to counter what he’s labeled “comprehensive containment and suppression by Western countries led by the US” by committing to homegrown tech advances. Xi broke with tradition last month by securing another five years in charge.

Read: US Says Tough China Moves Needed to Counter ‘National Champions’

The Biden administration has imposed stringent export controls on shipments of advanced semiconductors to China, part of a strategy that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan has said was necessary to “maintain as large of a lead as possible” in key technologies.

The US has already rallied the governments of Netherlands and Japan to curb exports of advanced chips, and is working to further tighten restrictions. The latest curbs could come as soon as this month.

During his four-day trip to Guangdong — China’s biggest province by gross domestic product — Xi said “core technologies in key fields should be based on independent research and development while international cooperation is also welcomed,” according to the Xinhua report.

He said the country “should strengthen education and talent cultivation to lay a solid foundation for self-reliance and strength in science and technology.”

More: How China Aims to Rejig Economy as Top Lawmakers Meet: QuickTake

Xi also flagged his other top priorities he has set out for his administration over the next few years, including:

  • “Adhering to the path of common prosperity” and making sure less-developed regions can catch up. The “common prosperity” slogan has worried investors, who fear it may mean bigger taxes on the wealthy and caps on executive pay.

  • During his visit to the LG Display plant in Guangzhou, he emphasized that China remains open to foreign investors. Xi’s strict adherence to the country’s Covid Zero over the past three years limited investment into China, which was largely closed off from the rest of the world.

  • Xi said an “education campaign should firm up the ideals and convictions of party members and officials” in 2023. Last month, the president tightened his grip over the government and economy with the biggest revamp of the ruling Communist Party in years.

–With assistance from Yujing Liu.

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