The Failure of China’s Microchip Giant Tests Beijing’s Tech Ambitions

Tsinghua Unigroup, a would-be microchip champion, is facing bankruptcy, a setback in China’s quest for semiconductor self-reliance, the New York Times reported. In 2015, an obscure company run by a real estate mogul woke up the world to China’s ambitions in semiconductors, the foundational technology that powers computing. Laden with state funding and political backing, the company made jaws drop with a $23 billion bid to buy American chip-maker Micron. Six years on, China’s would-be microchip champion looks more like a national disappointment. The company, Tsinghua Unigroup, said this month that one of its creditors had initiated bankruptcy proceedings, raising the prospect that it could be broken up. Tsinghua Unigroup’s flagging financial fortunes are an uncomfortable failure for Chinese officials, who sought to use state-guided funds and plans to pull even with the U.S. in an ever more pugnacious competition over the future of technology. Once an exemplar of the powers of state-directed capitalism, Tsinghua Unigroup is emerging as a cautionary tale about the waste that can come with misplaced investment and subsidies. Read more.