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China on the Lookout for S. Korean Engineers and Scholars
China Seeks Korean Brain
China on the Lookout for S. Korean Engineers and Scholars
  • By Jung Suk-yee
  • August 29, 2018, 10:39
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Chinese ICT companies are increasingly turning their eyes toward South Korean engineers and scholars as the U.S. has become more and more sensitive to tech leaks and brain drain to China.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on August 7, during his dinner with the CEOs of 13 companies such as Boeing, that Chinese students in the United States, who constitute the largest group of foreign students in the U.S., are like spies with few exceptions. Earlier, in March this year, he blocked Singapore-based Broadcom from taking over Qualcomm for up to US$160 billion, saying that Broadcom was in cooperation with Huawei and its acquisition of Qualcomm would lead to security threats.

According to the U.S., Huawei, the world’s largest communications equipment manufacturer, and its founder Ren Zhengfei, who was a People's Liberation Army intelligence officer, are spying with the Chinese government. This is why the U.S. Congress urged AT&T early this year to sever its relationship with Huawei and not to sell the Huawei Mate 10 smartphone.

With the U.S. becoming more and more sensitive to tech leaks and brain drain to China and potential security threats involving it, Chinese ICT companies are increasingly turning their eyes toward South Korean engineers and scholars, which has continued for about 10 years so far in fact as far as engineers are concerned. For example, several Seoul National University engineering professors recently received cooperation requests from Chinese ICT companies, including Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent and JD.com as well as Huawei, which are currently increasing their investment in artificial intelligence and big data.

“Chinese companies are deeply interested in AI, big data, semiconductor and display technologies,” said Kwon Oh-kyung, head of the National Academy of Engineering of Korea, adding, “We have received a very large number of collaboration requests from Chinese local governments as well as BOE, Baidu, Huawei and so on, yet we have turned down those requests without exception for fear of technology leakage.”