Better Selfie with Smarter Technology
The Greatest Competition of the 21st Century

Dr Puyam Rakesh Singh *

Human civilization without technology is comparable to a rootless tree. At the same time, technology can also put humanity under threat. The norms and principles guiding the scientific community to put the growing advancement in science and technology to good use is the primary line of defence. Some scientists trying to build a powerful nuclear bomb to detonate the same as part of their mass suicide is no joke. Also, the fate of humanity in the age of artificial intelligence (AI) is being discussed. Regarding this, the late Stephen Hawking warned about the likely impacts of AI on humanity.

To start with smart phone, you all will agree that taking selfie is great fun. But the stories behind technological innovation is not as simple as buying the smart phone from an outlet. We all want better ones available in the market. Newer, affordable and user-friendly brands are hitting the stalls faster than you can follow. That is part of the technological development. The key word is innovation. It is a multi-billion business of feeding the consumers with new apps and better operating system. Advertisement industry around smart phones is thriving. Smart phones are becoming an extension of our physical body.

At present, the world is going through a turbulent phase with the US and China indulging in trade war. And increasingly semiconductor devices are at the heart of the growing competition. It looks like denying the other party the cutting-edge technologies and giving economic punishments for not toeing the line is in full swing. Besides computers and other electronic gadgets, as this competition involves the smart phones that we use to take selfie, make call and share video, we deserve to know a bit about what is happening in the world.

If you haven't heard about the bad omen that afflicted the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, you are missing an important part of the greatest story in the 21st century. But it is ok not to know that part. Firstly, technology world revolves around ideas, skills and innovation. It does not sleep. When it comes to its economic value, market is the ultimate decider. Those of you who are interested in technology must be familiar with the Silicon Valley where scientists and engineers from across the world come and work together including those from China.

In fact, the Silicon Valley is the stage where humanity's race towards higher scientific and technological goals is in full display. Now China is working on building its own Silicon Valley in Shenzhen, Guangdong. And that is not something the US wants to see. This issue is putting the two largest economies in opposite camps. Differences between the two countries are many over several issues, but technology is at the heart of their rivalry.

Despite all the concerns and complaints, China is focused on promoting key technological sectors under its "Made in China 2025". This has become the alarm bell for the US and the EU countries. The US calls China a rival in a clear tone. Again, the EU has called China "an economic competitor in pursuit of technological leadership and a systemic rival promoting alternative model of governance."

In fact, China promotes production of cheaper alternatives to several products and intermediate products which are used in industries. Competition for market is getting tougher as China climbs up the ladder of technological development. No doubt, healthy dose of competition and cooperation is needed for human civilisation. Sometimes one will override the other.

If competition for technological advancement is to be discussed, one key sector is the ICT with 5G technology as the core issue. Lately, the world has accepted the Chinese brands such as Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and many others. Moreover, the world is having tough fight for supremacy over robotics, AI, semiconductor devices, aero-space technology, deep-ocean technology, 5G technology, big data, the internet of things (IoT) etc.

The race continues and the winners are yet to be announced. The future of mankind will be shaped and managed by those few countries with superior expertise in these cutting-edge technologies. Students who love science and technology must explore career options in the above mentioned fields of study.

Meanwhile, the world is experiencing several challenges to the post-World War II international order. Against this backdrop, the US Government made announcement on May 15, 2019 to ban export of technology to Huawei. Following this, tech companies such as Google, Intel and Qualcomm have agreed to stop selling of software, hardware and licences for intellectual property to the Chinese company. Huawei has also revealed that the company has developed its own operating system (OS) as a contingency plan amidst tensions with the US since 2012 when Washington targeted both Huawei and ZTE, the two Chinese telecommunications giants.

We have at least heard about iOS and Android. Huawei has been relying on these operating systems for its products. When the 'chips' are becoming central to the technological competition, Huawei has stated that it will proceed with its own operating system if pressed hard. If it works well, Huawei may not face the fate of ZTE. The Chinese company introduced its Kirin 980 smart phone chip in August 2018 in Germany. It is a system on chip (SoC) built on the advanced 7-nanometre fabrication process of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).

Here comes the importance of the cross-strait relations between the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Republic of China (popularly known as Taiwan). China, officially known as the PRC, has huge reserves of rare earth metals which are used in cell phones, rechargeable batteries, computer memory etc. China is also catching up with the advanced chip (IC) makers in the world.

To put it simply, China lacks the expertise to compete in semiconductor devices at the moment. As per the reports, it is not beyond China's technological expertise to come up with its own chips. However, maturity of new technology takes time. One good example is how China is dealing with development of the WS-15 jet engine for its fighter jets.

At present, the world's largest semiconductor companies are from the US, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Germany, Netherlands and Switzerland. Getting new technology from these countries will be a tough game for Beijing with the US watching closely. Nevertheless, China is a smart player, and one cannot ignore the fact that the Chinese people have long-term visions. The Chinese technocrats are not ignorant of the high cost of competition with the US and other powers. It boils down to what people call 'Plan B' in the scheme of things.

As Beijing is lagging behind the Taiwanese industries in chip-making expertise, semiconductor industry in China has been luring expertise from Taiwan to build powerful chips for computers and smart phones. Not so long ago, engineers from Taiwan started flowing into China across the Taiwan Strait as part of Beijing's move to boost chip production and strengthen its indigenous capability.

The collaboration between Taiwan's United Microelectronics Corp (UMC) and China's Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co Ltd was stopped by the US pressure. No doubt, intellectual property violations have been at the heart of several disagreements between the US and China. Taiwan has been put under strict measures to avoid any such illegal transfer of technology to the Chinese industries.

Historically speaking, China has been nurturing the tradition of self-sufficiency. However, it made some compromises with the practice to suit the reform and opening up policy initiated by Deng Xiaoping in late 1978. Yet, as part of the tradition, China has invested heavily on its semiconductor industry and related sectors to meet the requirements in the recent past.

This is the story of the China National Integrated Circuit Industry Investment Fund set up in 2014. Amid fears of escalating tensions with the US, HiSilicon, a semiconductor company based in Shenzhen, Guangdong and fully owned by Huawei, is busy working on building chips that can compete with the global leaders.

As Huawei works hard to catch up with the technological giants amid the rising tensions with the US, it would be the most remarkable battlefield for China in the 21st Century. China's rise is intricately woven around technological development and competition. Development of indigenous technologies, innovation under one party rule, technology transfer, attraction of global talents, protection of Intellectual property rights and high investment on R&D are central themes of the Made in China 2025.

The uneasiness of the US regarding China's rise reflects the ground reality of China's technology absorption capacity and capability to develop technologies indigenously. The story of Huawei will confirm whether China is a sleeping lion or it is wide awake. We all want to take better selfie with smarter technology. But what matters here is who owns the smarter technology.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are that of the Researcher and not of the Council.

* Dr Puyam Rakesh Singh wrote this article for
The writer is a Research Fellow at Indian Council of World Affairs and can reached at khuman_mei(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 23 2019.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • The Great June 18 Uprising :: Flash
  • Bishnupriya Manipuri: Identity : Book
  • The Rain-Clad Skies of Imphal : Poem
  • Healthy ageing & screening tests
  • Adaptability to quality will boost Education
  • Greencane Industries
  • Staring at political & financial crisis
  • Indo-Myanmar ops on rebel camps
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #4
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • The Story of Two Incidents in One State
  • Cry of a Dying River - 80 : Poem
  • Combating climate change
  • Idea of selling seized liquor
  • Mutum Somorjit : Passed IIT Main/Advance
  • Chak-tangba, Overdraft & Game of Throne
  • Poumai Paoki Wrestling #1: Gallery
  • AEKo_Igi wari :: Seireng
  • Pettigrew contribution to Tribal practice #1
  • Man in White (MIW)
  • India Influence Report 2019
  • Skin care essentials for dry skin
  • Rejoinder to NDPP :: NPF [14 Jun]
  • Far removed from Cong Mukt slogan
  • Taming the traffic
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • Heritage Park #1 : Gallery
  • Daniel Chabungbam in 7 best NE Journalist
  • Bamboo as a green gold bioresource
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Her Fantasy :: Poem
  • NDPP communique on NPF President
  • Pedagogy for 21st Century Teaching
  • Media Sensitization Workshop on Hepatitis
  • Taking back to 1999: Of overdraft & politics
  • The battle for the Throne
  • Lai Lamthokpa, Thangjing #3: Gallery
  • Invisible workforce: The domestic worker
  • Manipur - An Ethnic Dilemma #2
  • Contemporary issues in Mizoram : Book
  • Modern village administration #2
  • Mitigating hunger is only choice of a poor
  • Digitisation & Cyber Security Training
  • Disturbing dissent within the BJP
  • Id-ul-Fitr @ Hatta #2 : Gallery
  • An evening with Manipuri dance
  • Finally some semblance of awareness
  • Nationalism in Manipuri literature #3
  • Sail Away With Me :: Poem
  • World Music Day at Yaiskul, Imphal
  • Selected candidates to the Global Shapers
  • India-Myanmar conf: Better late than never
  • Thangjing Lai Haraoba : Beyond optics
  • Irungbam Padmabati : Khunung Eshei
  • A tribute to Arambam Somorendra
  • In quest of green vibes :: Poem
  • Workshop: Livelihood & Social Protection
  • Catering service as career option
  • Not yet an open revolt but not all well
  • Something more needed
  • Explain 'misleading' news, tells local daily
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #3
  • World Ocean Day 2019
  • Post election scenario : Manipur
  • ICC World Cup under the English Summer
  • Cry of a downtrodden State :: Poem
  • Yaithibi Loukol- violation of Land Act
  • Looking at politics of peace talk
  • Laija - Film Scenes #2 : eRang
  • Government Of India Stratagem
  • Love at Sunset :: Poem
  • Tips to make blood testing easy
  • IGNTU Seminar: Indo-Myanmar Relation
  • Budding Malwares in Manipur University
  • Aimol Baptist: Felicitation Program
  • Political uncertainty in Biren govt
  • Tangkhuls in traditions of Manipur #2
  • Imphal Jamboree- Improving state of youth
  • Zonel Sougaijam : Facebook Hall of Fame
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Stop Station construction @Sagoltongba
  • Diploma at Don Bosco School, Kalimpong
  • Condemn firing incident at NDPP Sec Gen
  • The art of shuffling, reshuffling
  • Of our identity
  • Id-ul-Fitr @ Hatta #1 : Gallery
  • Tree plantation by Journalists : Gallery
  • Manipur textiles & handicrafts export
  • Phou-su Phou-su khol :: Poem
  • Nationalism in Manipuri literature #2
  • Training on Cyber Security
  • World Environment Day : Go Green Call
  • Environment Day and Manipur
  • Bamboo Cooking Competition : Gallery
  • Exploring Indigenous Knowledge : Book
  • Traditional environmental ethics
  • Air pollution : Focal theme of WED
  • Career options in Optometry
  • World Environment Day at Kumbi
  • I Want to Make Dingko Biopic : Shahid
  • Kwatha: Aayush to play an army officer
  • NSCN (K) must take NCA path: Tatmadaw
  • Cabinet to be reshuffled this month: CM
  • Dzukou valley declared 'plastic-free zone'
  • Modi will resolve Naga issue.. N'land BJP
  • Manipur - An Ethnic Dilemma #1
  • he UpaL :: Seireng
  • Cry of a Dying River - 79 :: Poem
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • World Environment Day, 2019
  • Time to 'beat air pollution'
  • Free Heart Scan at SKY Hospital
  • Nagaland CM on World Environment Day
  • 50 percent absence at Cabinet meet
  • Introspecting self for good of society
  • Lai Lamthokpa, Thangjing #2: Gallery
  • BEHS interacted with Guv: Gallery
  • India's Forest policy 2018 & concerns
  • Khoidajei- best Music Video Award @ SIFF
  • A constellation of Five :: Poem
  • A moral obligation for CSOs in election
  • BEHS, Motbung, students tour Raj Bhavan
  • Job @JCRE Skill Solutions
  • Ghost of 2001 not yet exorcised
  • Concern for a clean environment
  • Paoki Paddy Festival @Purul #2: Gallery
  • puNsi IceL :: Seireng
  • Meiraba : U-19 singles at All India Ranking
  • Modern village administration #1
  • Schoolchildren in the Park :: Poem
  • Tree Plantation at RIMS, Lamphelpat
  • First suspect always the husband
  • Gudui Ngai @ Kakhulong #2 : Gallery
  • Nationalism in Manipuri literature #1
  • Rain compelling ritual of Meiteis
  • Nehru to Modi: Profiles of PM : Book
  • Heart that reserved for destitute kids
  • Summer beauty tips & tricks for busy mom
  • The unintended fear psychosis
  • Urmila Shagolsem : Miss India : Gallery
  • Draft Indian Forest Act & impact on Manipur
  • Tobacco in Manipur and COTPA
  • End victimization of Research Scholars
  • Another opportunity missed for Congress
  • Failing to fear insecurities is strength
  • World No Tobacco Day observed
  • Striking regional balance : 2 from NE
  • RIMS again: Why ?
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #2
  • June Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • Heat wave advisory : Medical Directorate
  • Cry of a Dying River - 78 :: Poem
  • 1st Sports Event at Bengaluru
  • Election-Politics-Parties & Govt
  • 'Know Your Assam Rifle' violate UN Protocol
  • Modi in second stint as PM
  • BJP, Liberal & Mayang Settler in time of CAB
  • Amur falcon reaches breeding site in China
  • Tangkhuls in traditions of Manipur #1
  • Sinnaiba, Akhul, Amom :: eMing
  • Keibul Lamjao National Park : Gallery
  • Rise & Fall of Cachari Kingdom #2
  • Industry try to co-opt World No Tobacco Day
  • A new economic policy of Manipur
  • Gossips & rumours around 303 of BJP
  • Turmoil within the Congress
  • Heal the wound before it rots
  • Lai Lamthokpa, Thangjing #1: Gallery
  • How Modi & Shah decimated Congress
  • Public health Care :: Book Review
  • Finding Elopement :: Poem
  • Function of Nampou of Zeliangrongs #2
  • Public Health (MPH) at IIPH- Shillong
  • Spelling out pratical plans
  • Vocational Programs at BSDU, Jaipur
  • Injecting civic senses to citizens
  • Political development : Impact on Congress
  • Gudui Ngai @ Kakhulong #1 : Gallery
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #1
  • Excercise of adult franchise in LS Poll
  • Voices less heard - women candidates
  • Paramedical courses as career options #2
  • Manipur Traffic : A game of fast & furious
  • Rev William Pettigrew & Modern Education
  • Cheirao-chingkaba #3 : Gallery
  • Old-Kuki group by Linguistic Survey in 1904
  • A constellation of Five :: Poem
  • A free stopover at Amsterdam
  • Standing in queue for exam form at MU
  • Questions on the ceasefire coverage
  • Paoki Paddy Festival @Purul #1: Gallery
  • Status of Naga-Kuki relation in Manipur #2
  • There is no 3rd option between true & false
  • Global Warming- Climate change & effect
  • Summertime Blues :: Poem
  • Blocked heart valve treated without surgery
  • Reality of Education system in Manipur
  • Laichombam Sapana @ JNMDA : Gallery
  • Rise & Fall of Cachari Kingdom #1
  • Modi once again- Reading Election result
  • Function of Nampou of Zeliangrongs #1
  • Zhaoshomai, indigenous religion of Liiyai
  • Fashion by Kumarjit Laishram #2 : Gallery
  • Dams as a death trap in Manipur
  • Raju Bista (Kangpoki) is MP of Darjeeling
  • Pakhangba Cheng-hongba #1 : Gallery
  • Repeal AFSPA enacted on 22 May 1958
  • Future Hindu Culture of Meitei is magificient
  • Poumai Purul Paoki Fest : Gallery
  • AEgi KoHcY :: Seireng
  • 2019 HSLC Exam Toppers :: Gallery
  • HSLC Toppers share thoughts, aspirations
  • HSLC :: Top 25 Rank Holders
  • HSLC :: Subject Topper
  • HSLC :: Statistical Abstract
  • HSLC :: Full Roll No Listing
  • HSLC :: Compartmental
  • Mukna Kangjei Tournament : Gallery
  • Phayeng Koubru Haraoba #4 : Gallery
  • ELVEEGO : Top 10 Promising Companies
  • Hr Sec Exam 2019 Toppers #2: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #2: Gallery
  • Purnima Moirangthem : 5th in Commerce
  • Jiribam Bazaar :: 360 Panorama View
  • Thailand Princess @Kangla #2 :: Gallery
  • Kadigampou, Akeng :: eMing
  • Ningombam Tampha :: 3rd in ISC Exam
  • Cheiraoba Chak Katpa #2 :: Gallery
  • M Diana: National Women Social Award
  • Urmila Shagolsem: Miss India 2019 Finalist
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download