Don’t be lulled into thinking China is failing in its goal to become the world’s biggest semiconductor-chip producer. That’s the conclusion some are drawing from such troubles as the bankruptcy of national champion Tsinghua Unigroup and the high-profile arrests of several officials and executives. If China is failing, the argument goes, why is Washington launching an expensive industrial policy to subsidize domestic semiconductor manufacturing?
This analysis is emblematic of the Western habit to underestimate the strength and resilience of China’s economy, political system and industrial strategies. China’s statist approach suffers from endemic waste, misallocation of capital and corruption. China isn’t guaranteed to succeed simply because Beijing wants to. But the notion that these arrests and bankruptcy signal China’s failure lacks evidence.