security

Xi vows to beef up China tech hub – Arkansas Online


BEIJING — President Xi Jinping on Wednesday promised new steps to promote development of China’s biggest tech center, Shenzhen, amid a feud with Washington that has disrupted access to U.S. technology and is fueling ambitions to create Chinese suppliers.

In a speech marking the 40th anniversary of the former fishing village adjacent to Hong Kong being declared the first area for the ruling Communist Party to allow free enterprise, Xi promised to ease regulations to encourage new industries.

Xi called for “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” and “optimizing and upgrading production,” alluding to ambitions to become a global competitor in fields from telecoms and bio-tech to electric cars and renewable energy.

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Companies in Shenzhen including Huawei Technologies Ltd., a maker of smartphones and switching equipment that is China’s first global tech brand, play a key role in those plans. That has made them targets of U.S. complaints they might be security threats or erode American industrial dominance.

The party leadership is issuing more than 60 policy changes or new guidelines, Xi said in the speech in Shenzhen to an audience of business people and officials. He gave no details but said Shenzhen would have “more autonomy in important areas.”

The audience, all of whom wore masks, included Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei and Zhong Nanshan, a prominent scientist who in January became the first to publicly confirm human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus.

Shenzhen is symbolically important in Chinese politics as part of a 1992 tour by retired supreme leader Deng Xiaoping. He called on the leadership to revive his “reform and opening up” strategy following the political chill that set in after the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

Then-President Jiang Zemin eventually sided with Deng and committed to market-oriented changes that helped to ignite decades of explosive economic growth.

China’s efforts to create its own tech competitors have added to tensions that prompted President Donald Trump to impose tariffs on Chinese goods in 2018.

Washington has blocked Huawei’s access to American components and technology. That threatens to cripple its sales of smartphones and switching equipment. Trump issued an order in August that declared WeChat, a popular messaging service operated by another Shenzhen tech giant, Tencent Holding Ltd., a threat to national security.

Economists warn that other Chinese technology producers might be disrupted by U.S. curbs on access to American components and services such as Google’s Android smartphone operating system.

That has added urgency to the party’s work on nurturing Chinese creators of processor chips and other high-tech components, an effort that is focused on Shenzhen and a handful of other tech centers.

The top-level government support for Shenzhen was also meant to be a message for Hong Kong, said Victor Gao, a professor at China’s Soochow University and a former Foreign Ministry official.

“If you do not have stability, if you are caught up in revolution, or great turmoil, or anarchy, then you will lose out on whatever advantages and resources you may have previously had,” Gao said. “Then your economic development will reverse course.”

Since last summer, Hong Kong has been rocked by sometimes-violent protests against Beijing’s tightening grip on the city.

Hong Kong was supposed to enjoy a high degree of autonomy within China until 2047. But it has seen its status as an international financial center erode as Beijing has exerted greater influence over its policies. In May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress that Washington would no longer treat Hong Kong as separate and autonomous from mainland China.

Shenzhen has grown from a village of 30,000 people in 1980 to about 13 million. Its economic output of $400 billion last year was larger than that of South Africa, a country of 58 million people.

Shenzhen is cited as the region’s economic engine in government plans to integrate and develop cities at the mouth of Guangdong Province’s Pearl River. That has stirred unease in Hong Kong that the territory’s status as a business hub might erode.

Downtown is a forest of office towers to rival Manhattan or neighboring Hong Kong. The Ping An Finance Center is the world’s fourth-tallest skyscraper at 1,965 feet. The city also is home to one of the mainland’s two stock exchanges.

Despite its wealth and a population nearly double that of New York City, Shenzhen has the air of a leafy but uneventful business park.

Parking lots of major tech and finance companies are filled with executives’ European and Japanese luxury cars late into the night. But parents complain there are too few schools for all the city’s children, few parks and too little for families to do.

Information for this article was contributed by Joe McDonald of The Associated Press and by Eva Dou and Shibani Mahtani of The Washington Post.

FILE - In this Oct. 29, 2019, file photo, visitors tour exhibitor booths showcasing their security systems at the China Public Security Expo in Shenzhen, China's Guangdong province. President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, promised new steps to promote development of China's biggest tech center, Shenzhen, amid a feud with Washington that has disrupted access to U.S. technology and is fueling ambitions to create Chinese suppliers. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 29, 2019, file photo, visitors tour exhibitor booths showcasing their security systems at the China Public Security Expo in Shenzhen, China’s Guangdong province. President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, promised new steps to promote development of China’s biggest tech center, Shenzhen, amid a feud with Washington that has disrupted access to U.S. technology and is fueling ambitions to create Chinese suppliers. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and other leaders applaud during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdogn Province, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Xi promised Wednesday new steps to back development of China's biggest tech center, Shenzhen, amid a feud with Washington that has disrupted access to U.S. technology and is fueling ambitions to create Chinese providers. (Zhang Ling/Xinhua via AP)

In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and other leaders applaud during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdogn Province, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Xi promised Wednesday new steps to back development of China’s biggest tech center, Shenzhen, amid a feud with Washington that has disrupted access to U.S. technology and is fueling ambitions to create Chinese providers. (Zhang Ling/Xinhua via AP)

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping reacts as attendees applaud during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong Province, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. President Xi Jinping promised Wednesday new steps to back development of China's biggest tech center, Shenzhen, amid a feud with Washington that has disrupted access to U.S. technology and is fueling ambitions to create Chinese providers. (Ju Peng/Xinhua via AP)

In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping reacts as attendees applaud during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong Province, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. President Xi Jinping promised Wednesday new steps to back development of China’s biggest tech center, Shenzhen, amid a feud with Washington that has disrupted access to U.S. technology and is fueling ambitions to create Chinese providers. (Ju Peng/Xinhua via AP)

In this photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdong Province, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. President Xi Jinping promised Wednesday new steps to back development of China's biggest tech center, Shenzhen, amid a feud with Washington that has disrupted access to U.S. technology and is fueling ambitions to create Chinese providers. (Zhang Ling/Xinhua via AP)

In this photo released by China’s Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong Province, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. President Xi Jinping promised Wednesday new steps to back development of China’s biggest tech center, Shenzhen, amid a feud with Washington that has disrupted access to U.S. technology and is fueling ambitions to create Chinese providers. (Zhang Ling/Xinhua via AP)

A TV screens broadcasts Chinese President Xi Jinping during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen in southern China's Guangdogn Province at a restaurant in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Xi promised Wednesday new steps to back development of China's biggest tech center, Shenzhen, amid a feud with Washington that has disrupted access to U.S. technology and is fueling ambitions to create Chinese providers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

A TV screens broadcasts Chinese President Xi Jinping during an event to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone in Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdogn Province at a restaurant in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. Xi promised Wednesday new steps to back development of China’s biggest tech center, Shenzhen, amid a feud with Washington that has disrupted access to U.S. technology and is fueling ambitions to create Chinese providers. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)



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