February 2023
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Meet the entrepreneur who led China’s struggle for global chip dominance

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Editor’s note: Elements of this article are condensed from Chris Miller’s recent book, Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology.

For Zhao Weiguo, it was a long, winding road from a childhood raising pigs and sheep along China’s western frontier to being celebrated as a chip billionaire by Chinese media. Zhao ended up in rural China after his father was banished for writing subversive poems during the Cultural Revolution, but he never planned to accept a life rearing livestock in the countryside. After winning entrance to Tsinghua University, one of China’s best universities, he turned himself into a government-backed tech tycoon. The investment firm that until recently he ran, called Tsinghua Unigroup, looked like a private company. In fact, it acted like a vehicle for the Chinese government’s industrial policy — and set its aim on acquiring the world’s most advanced semiconductor
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