Oct 28, 2020 08:04 PM

Huawei Founder Says Chinese Tech Research Is Similar to U.S.’ Before World War II

What’s new: Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., has taken aim at China’s scientific research sector, comparing the situation to that of the U.S. before the Second World War.

At that time, American science was utilitarian, relied on European science, and paid no attention to basic research, which resulted in short-cycle industries with short-term outcomes, Ren said in comments at multiple top universities in Beijing last month, according to a post (link in Chinese) published Tuesday on Huawei’s online forum.

When the Second World War was coming to an end, the U.S. steered towards basic research, gradually reducing dependence on European basic research and becoming a frontrunner in the fundamental research field.

The history of scientific and technological development in the U.S. can “serve as a mirror” for China to reflect on its strategic technological development, Ren said.

What’s the background: Since May 2019, the U.S. has imposed multiple rounds of sanctions on the Chinese telecom giant. Huawei is responding by joining hands with domestic research and development institutions and companies in the industry chain, with hopes of building a chip-making line that can stand independent of the U.S. by 2022, Caixin has learned (link in Chinese) from sources at Huawei.

Ren said that the difficulties Huawei now faces have nothing to do with a dependence on global platforms but rest on domestic manufacturing techniques being currently unable to support the making of advanced chips designed by Huawei.

Scientists distinguish between applied research, which is designed to solve specific, practical problems, and fundamental or basic research, which may not yield immediate benefits but seeks to understand how the world works, and often results in major scientific breakthroughs.

Related: Despite U.S. Chokehold, Huawei Has Enough Chips, Chairman Says

Quick Takes are condensed versions of China-related stories for fast news you can use. To read the Huawei announcement, click here.

Contact reporter Timmy Shen ( and editors Heather Mowbray ( and Flynn Murphy (

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