According to The Epoch Times, eight Chinese officials in the semiconductor industry were fired and under investigation last month. Most are high-profile figures in a Chinese chip monitoring agency and a major state-run chip investment fund.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, China’s anti-corruption watchdog, and state-controlled media outlets announced the cases in July.
In China, most of the suspects under investigation later confess and are found guilty when facing trial.
The Epoch Times reported that these eight officials held key positions and were in charge of the country’s semiconductor industry. Six worked in China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and the National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund (CICF).
China’s Minister of Industry and Information Technology, Xiao Yaqing, is under investigation. Another big boss is Ding Wenwu, the former president of CICF.
The Financial Times cited a report from Chinese news outlet Caixin that just days before Xiao’s probe was announced, Zhao Weiguo, former head of Tsinghua Unigroup, was also detained at his home in Beijing and placed under investigation. Tsinghua Unigroup once considered one of China’s chip champions, defaulted on a domestic bond in 2020.
Caixin reported that these eight officials allegedly were involved in the same case and might be charged with bribery and corruption.
The probes of high-profile Chinese figures in the semiconductor sector come amid a heated race between the U.S. and China.
Alex Capri, a research fellow at the Asia-based Hinrich Foundation, told Bloomberg, “The Chinese Communist Party is deadly serious about advancing China’s capacity and self-reliance when it comes to the chip sector. This is vital to the Party.”
He added, “These important figures take on positions highly instrumental for advancing China’s chip industry but it is not 100% clear whether they are completely toeing the Party line. At the same time, the Party is trying to control more and more of the tech sector.”
In recent years, the CCP has pushed up its ambition to achieve global chip dominance as a part of its Made in China 2025 plan.
The National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund was founded in 2014 as part of China’s major effort to boost its chip industry. The fund received an initial $22 billion investment, and announced another $33 billion investment in 2019.