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A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride
I came back from the holiday break with tons of energy, and hope you did, too. I did a lot of yoga during the down time, I’m six days into dry January and I got a hard-earned “B” in a cyberoperations class I took at Johns Hopkins this fall. Learning new things keeps me energized. The upside of getting older is knowing what energizes you and what drags you down; the downside is, well, getting older.
I couldn’t decide what to write this week, so I wrote Five Business Trends to Watch in 2023. Top on my list: The U.S. chip manufacturing boom – I counted 23 multi-billion projects in the works, mostly in small cities across the country. Here’s where they’re landing: A $350B Chip Manufacturing Boom.
The big boom in chip manufacturing, of course, is being driven by the pandemic-era realization of how vulnerable we are to supply chain disruptions, and by the new positioning of China as a near-enemy. The Trump Administration initiated a more aggressive stance toward China, and the Biden Administration is continuing it. Most U.S. publications have credited the manufacturing boom to the CHIPs Act, which directed $52.7 billion in federal dollars toward chip manufacturing in the United States. But the United States is using both carrot and sticks to draw chip manufacturing back to the US. For instance, it has leveled various sanctions designed to keep China from developing semiconductor capacity. Forced to pick, companies are hightailing it to the United States and Europe. Semiconductors are not the only battleground, nor the most concerning one. China is building up its nuclear weapons arsenal faster than U.S. officials had anticipated, the AP reported in November.
I’m watching this building competition, like many people, and am worried that I’m hearing the drums of war. But there is much Americans don’t understand about China: not the culture, nor the regime currently in charge. Bloomberg just reported that the Xi Jinping’s regime is pulling back on its campaign to ramp up semiconductor expansion. If the news is accurate, did the regime pack up its ambitions so readily? Or even more telling of Americans’ lack of predictive capacity when it comes to China: Remember the Communist Party Conference in October, when Xi Jinping was portrayed as completely in control and determined to maintain the country’s strict Covid policies? A month later, widespread protests (that were thought to be nearly impossible in China) erupted – and within weeks, the anti-Covid policies had been relaxed. Protestors are now reportedly being punished. It’s a good reminder to be cautious about what you believe, especially about a country and a people being positioned as an enemy.