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2013热刺转会表: 貿易爭端時代,中國芯片行業能否迎頭趕上?

热刺贝尔 www.gyplwd.com.cn Grady McGregor 2019年12月01日

越來越多的證據表明,中國的芯片制造正在進入一個新時代。

眾所周知,中國進口半導體芯片的支出比進口石油還高,這說明了中國對外國芯片的嚴重依賴。即使是現在,雖然已經耕耘多年,但中國在微型芯片制造方面仍然遠遠落后于美國,而這些芯片是iPhone、三星Galaxy或華為Mate等手機的動力來源。但隨著中國與美國的緊張關系不斷升級,由于英特爾和高通等芯片巨頭都是美國公司,可能會刺激中國企業和供應鏈最終迎頭趕上。

半導體硅芯片已經成為技術革命的支柱,為移動電話、電腦、無人駕駛汽車和“智能”設備提供動力。它們的計算能力每兩年就會翻一番(這種工業原理被稱為摩爾定律),推動人類進入前所未有的技術大發展時代。

20世紀50年代以來,中國就開始投入到關鍵零部件的開發。但事實證明,芯片的制造尤其困難,因為創新成本高、發展快,很難趕上。例如,2017年,僅英特爾就在半導體研發上投入了130多億美元。

在中國,國家主導的半導體計劃甚至連國內需求都難以滿足。20世紀90年代,一個知名的大規模政府項目盡管資金充足卻收效甚微。然而,隨著中國在20世紀90年代和本世紀頭十年的對外開放,科技水平又不斷提高,國內對先進芯片的需求有增無減。21世紀初,中國再次試圖通過行業改造來刺激創新:大規模私營化、引入稅收優惠、提供新的資金。但這些努力基本上也徒勞無功。

麥肯錫研究半導體業務的管理合伙人克里斯托弗·托馬斯表示,事實證明,中國的半導體投資規模太小,而且過于分散,無法對全球市場產生重大影響。

尋求自給自足

2015年,中國政府推出了另一項計劃,發布了一系列以科技為重點的政策目標,名為“中國制造2025”,目標包括2020年實現半導體自給率達到40%,2025年達到70%。隨之而來的是大量針對該技術的投資承諾,例如10月宣布的300億美元半導體基金。

China famously spends more on importing semiconductor chips than it does on importing oil. This bit of trivia illustrates China’s deep dependency on foreign chips and is especially notable given China’s outsize efforts to break the habit. Even now, after years of investments, China still lags far behind the U.S. in manufacturing the tiny chips that power your iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or Huawei Mate. But the nation’s escalating tensions with the U.S.—home of giant chipmakers like Intel and Qualcomm—may be spurring China’s firms and supply chains to finally catch up.

Semiconductor silicon chips have formed the backbone of the technological revolution, helping to power mobile phones, computers, driverless cars, and “smart” devices. And they’ve doubled in computing power every two years—an industry principle known as Moore’s Law—spurring the unprecedented era of technological growth.

China has devoted resources to developing the crucial components since the 1950s. But chips have proven particularly difficult to manufacture since innovation is costly, and their rapid advancement is difficult to catch up with. In 2017, for example, Intel alone spent over $13 billion on research and development for semiconductors.

In China, state-led semiconductor initiatives have proved inadequate to meet even domestic demand. A large, well-funded state push in the 1990s famously yielded few results. Yet the need for advanced chips only grew as the country opened up in the 1990s and 2000s and became more technologically advanced. In the 2000s, the country again attempted to spur innovation by transforming the industry; it privatized much of the sector, introduced tax benefits, and created new funds. That effort too was largely fruitless.

According to Christopher Thomas, a managing partner at McKinsey focused on semiconductors, China’s semiconductor investments have often proved too small and dispersed to make any significant dent in the global marketplace.

Seeking self-sufficiency

In 2015, the Chinese government introduced yet another initiative, releasing a set of tech-focused policy goals called “Made in China 2025,” which aimed for 40% self-sufficiency in semiconductors by 2020, and 70% by 2025. This policy came with massive investment pledges into the technology, such as the $30 billion semiconductor fund announced in October.

2018年11月29日,上海舉行的制造業博覽會上,一名男子走過“中國制造2025”的標志牌。圖片來源:Visual China Group via Getty Images

《日經亞洲評論》(Nikkei Asian Review)的數據顯示,雖然中國在芯片行業取得了一些進展,但截至去年自給率僅為15%左右?!骯ノ迥?,這個行業的生產制造沒有產生任何結構性的變化?!蓖新硭顧?。

但越來越多的證據表明,中國的芯片制造正在進入一個新時代。與美國的爭端似乎刺激了中國的創新。

貿易爭端的涓滴效應

16個月的中美貿易爭端還沒有直接影響到芯片行業,但該行業已經受到了貿易爭端涓滴效應的影響。2018年7月起,美中兩國連續幾輪關稅戰給兩國依賴半導體的科技公司帶來了不小壓力,因為針對相關設備的斗爭已經陷入了針鋒相對的局面。價格因此上漲;像英特爾這樣的公司甚至已經開始將供應鏈移出中國。

該行業的行業協會近期表示希望中美通過協商達成貿易協議,呼吁雙方“取消有害關稅”。

黑名單是另一個問題,這是美國使出的阻礙中國科技的另外一個機制。去年5月,美國將華為和超過70家附屬公司加入政府實體清單(實際上就是一個黑名單),因為美國認為它們會對國家安全造成威脅。最近幾周,隨著美國在名單上加入了許多頂尖的人工智能公司,這個名單還在增加。新上榜的這些公司依賴于先進的芯片,但列入實體清單導致美國公司幾乎不可能向它們提供所需的零部件。

While the country has made some progress, as of last year it had reached only about 15% self-sufficiency, according to the Nikkei Asian Review. “In manufacturing there’s been no structural changes in the industry in the last five years,” said Thomas.

But there’s a growing body of evidence that suggests a new era in China’s chipmaking is underway. In this case, it seems, conflict with the U.S. is incentivizing China to innovate.

A trade war trickles down

The 16-month U.S.-China trade war hasn’t hit chips directly, but the industry has endured its trickle-down effects. Starting in July 2018, successive rounds of tariffs levied from the U.S. and China put a strain on technology companies in both countries that rely on semiconductors as related equipment got caught in the tit-for-tat. That led to higher prices; firms like Intel have even begun shifting supply chains away from China.

The industry’s trade association recently championed discussion of a U.S.-China trade deal, and called for the two sides to “remove harmful tariffs.”

Then there’s the matter of blacklisting, another mechanism employed by the U.S. that’s had a stymying effect on Chinese tech. Last May, the U.S. added Huawei and over 70 affiliated companies to the government’s entity list—essentially a blacklist—because the U.S. viewed it as a national security threat. In recent weeks, the list has grown, with the U.S. adding a number of top A.I. firms to it. The new entries depend on advanced chips, but the classification makes it nearly impossible for U.S. firms to supply them with the parts they need.

今年5月,美國阻擊華為,將其列入“實體清單”,這種做法實際上是禁止華為在美國開展任何業務。圖片來源:Henrique Casinhas—SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

英國的《金融時報》報道,美國甚至出于安全考慮敦促一家企業——全球最大的芯片制造商臺積電——停止向華為供應芯片。與臺積電關系密切的臺灣地區當局否認了這一報道,稱將繼續與華為合作。

中國的本土芯片

面臨這樣的緊張局勢,中國的科技巨頭加快了自己的芯片生產?;約涸?月也推出了一款由人工智能驅動的新款芯片,以協助處理大量數據。同樣,中國的科技和電子商務巨頭阿里巴巴在去年9月宣布,已經自主開發了人工智能芯片用于該公司的云計算服務。這些芯片代表著巨大進步,但這些公司仍然在很大程度上依賴從中國大陸境外進口芯片。就在幾天前,華為高管還訪問了臺灣地區,確保臺積電能夠繼續向他們提供最先進的芯片。

美國MSA Captial駐北京的管理合伙人、投資人本·哈伯格說,美國利用其在芯片行業的主導地位做出的種種決定短期內似乎損害了中國的利益。但在未來,他說,“輸家是美國?!?/p>

“如今投資的方向和資本的流向,是(中國的)替代產業,是中國自給自足的產業,(比如)芯片?!彼?1月初在廣州舉辦的《財富》全球科技論壇上表示,“將供應鏈、資本市場和人才的規模擴大一倍,最終會在中國國內形成一個自給自足的體系?!?/p>

長江商學院的金融學教授甘潔也持類似看法:“未來10年,中國將在技術戰中扮演更勢均力敵的角色?!庇捎諉攔殼霸詘氳繼辶煊蠐滌杏攀?,它通過威脅不向中國供貨讓中國為難。但隨著中國在芯片制造和總體技術領域實力增長,“(美國)將被迫更加合作?!彼硎?。

哈伯格稱,他認為芯片領域將變成一個日益“分裂的世界”,美國和中國將各自經營自己的生產鏈,第三方最終可能不得不在這兩者之間做出選擇。

如果供應鏈完全分裂,將是大型芯片制造商不愿意看到的結果,因為在全球范圍內整合供應鏈對降低成本、轉移技術、促進創新至關重要。

隨著中國尋求增強其芯片制造實力,一個長遠的問題是這種努力是會導致出現兩個獨立的市?。ㄒ桓鱸諉攔?,另一個在中國),還是中國會在全球芯片制造領域成為更勢均力敵的對手。然而,一個更直接的問題是,中國當前的創新熱潮是否會比過去結出更多的果實。(財富中文網)

譯者:Agatha

The U.S. reportedly even urged a foreign chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest, to stop selling chips to Huawei over security fears, according to the Financial Times. The government of Taiwan, which is closely tied to TSMC, denied the report and vowed to continue its relationship with Huawei.

China’s homemade chips

Amid all this tension, Chinese tech giants have ramped up their own chip production. Huawei itself introduced a new A.I.-powered chip to the market in August to help process large data. Likewise, Alibaba, the Chinese tech and e-commerce giant, announced in September it had developed its own A.I.-chip for use in its cloud computing services. These chips represent significant strides, but the firms still remain largely dependent on importing chips from outside mainland China’s borders. Just a few days ago, Huawei’s top executives made a trip to Taiwan to ensure that TSMC could continue supplying them with the most advanced chips.

The U.S.’s decisions to leverage its chipmaking dominance seems to be hurting China in the short-term, said investor Ben Harburg, a managing partner at MSA Captial in Beijing. But farther down the road, he said, "the loser is the United States.”

“Where the investment is going today, and where the capital is flowing today, is in (China’s) replacement, self-sufficiency industries (like) chips," he said at Fortune’s Global Tech Forum in Guangzhou last week. “[D]ecoupling supply chains, capital markets, [and] talent ultimately breeds a system internally of self-sufficiency for China.”

Gan Jie, professor of finance at Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business takes a similar long view: “Ten years down the road, China will be more of an equal partner in terms of the technology war,” she said. Because the U.S. has such an advantage now in semiconductors, its threats to withhold the technology from China sting. But as China gains in chipmaking and general technological prowess, “[the U.S.] will be forced to be more collaborative,” she said.

Harburg said he sees an increasingly “balkanized and bifurcated world” emerging in the chip space, with the U.S. and China operating their own distinct production chains that third parties may ultimate have to choose between.

Should supply chains fully split, it’d be an undesirable outcome for major chipmakers, since integrating supply chains globally is critical to keeping costs down, transferring technology, and fostering innovation.

As China seeks to grow its chipmaking prowess, one longterm question is whether the effort will spur the emergence of two separate markets—one in the U.S. and another in China—or if China will simply become a more equal player in the global chipmaking landscape. A more immediate question, however, is whether China’s current innovation spurt will bear more fruit than those of the past.

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