“Self-reliance is the foundation for the Chinese nation,” President Xi Jinping said in a speech released in March. He called for China to become a “technology superpower” to safeguard “national economic security. We must strive to become the world’s main center of science and the high ground of innovation."

To help make China a self-reliant “technology superpower,” the ruling Communist Party is pushing the world’s biggest e-commerce company to take on the tricky, expensive business of designing its own processor chips — a business unlike anything Alibaba Group has done before, reports AP.

Its 3-year-old chip unit, T-Head, unveiled its third processor in October, the Yitian 710 for Alibaba’s cloud computing business. Alibaba says for now, it has no plans to sell the chip to outsiders.

Other rookie chip developers including Tencent, a games and social media giant, and smartphone brand Xiaomi are pledging billions of dollars in line with official plans to create computing, clean energy and other technology that can build China’s wealth and global influence.

Processor chips play an increasingly critical role in products from smartphones and cars to medical devices and home appliances. Shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic are disrupting global manufacturing and adding to worries about supplies.

Chips are a top priority in the ruling Communist Party’s marathon campaign to end China’s reliance on technology from the United States, Japan and other suppliers Beijing sees as potential economic and strategic rivals. If it succeeds, business and political leaders warn that might slow down innovation, disrupt global trade and make the world poorer.

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