AspenCore, the company that publishes EE Times, hosts The Global CEO Summit and the Global Distribution Summit on two consecutive days in Shenzhen in China every November.

This year, one of the keynotes was delivered by one of the leading voices in China’s semiconductor industry, who gave a pretty thoroughly researched address arguing against simply giving up on resolving the trade war, and letting the two economies go their own separate ways. That approach is called “decoupling,” and it’s been gaining in popularity.

The keynoter observed that China and the United States could successfully decouple their economies, but both would prosper more if they didn’t.

We have an abridged version of his presentation translated on our web site at www.eetimes.com, and there’s a handy link to the story on this podcast episode’s web page, which you can find at www.eetimes.com/podcasts. The headline is, “Six Points to Consider Before Betting the Farm on … All Made in China.”

One of the event organizers is Echo Zhao, an AspenCore colleague of ours. I gave her a ring in Shenzhen, where she’s based.

Professor Wei Shaojun gave a well-researched presentation arguing that the U.S. and China might both benefit more by working with each other, rather than by going their separate ways. So I actually have one unexpected question for you.


BRIAN SANTO: When you tell me the answer, would you tell me how to pronounce the professor’s name correctly.


BRIAN SANTO: Because I know I got it wrong. So tell me how to pronounce the professor’s name, and then, tell us what the reaction was to his presentation.


BRIAN SANTO: Thank you.

ECHO ZHAO: Yeah. He is well known in China. I think his speech is more like an education for the media and the authorities. For everybody who is working in the semiconductor or electronic industry. We all know it’s the truth. We need to work with each other, right? It’s not realistic to completely decouple. And also I noted that for SIA and semiconductor companies in the US, they also oppose to decouple from China, right?

BRIAN SANTO: Yes. Some of them do, yeah.

ECHO ZHAO: And for professional media who focus on this industry, like us, EETimes, we know it’s the truth, too. But after American’s Entities List, and what happened at Huawei, the whole nation in China are paying great attention to semiconductor news, including my retired parents. That’s why there is also some voices from some media, especially mass media or WE media, trying to incite national sentiment, and want everything “independent and controllable.” So I think Professor Wei Shaojun’s speech is more like education for them.

BRIAN SANTO: Right. Adjusting expectations. There are a lot of Americans who feel similarly. They feel it’s an issue of national pride, but that doesn’t mean it’s the smartest thing to do.

ECHO ZHAO: We are on the same page.

BRIAN SANTO: Yes. My next question: The Double Summit was two days long. What were some of the other highlights? Perhaps some of the other presentations. What stood out in your mind?

ECHO ZHAO: The biggest highlight is, there are full of highlights during two-days summits. I am incapable to summarize them all in one episode. You can imagine it. Leading companies all bring their A games. For attendees, it’s a good chance to know the latest technologies and supply chain.

Personally, I was impressed by the attitudes of panelists of roundtable which I hosted. The topic of the roundtable is “Embracing the New Normal, and Envisioning a New Decade of Electronics Industry Development.”

People showed great confidence to the new normal, the better normal. Although they believe it will last for a long time maybe.

BRIAN SANTO: When you hosted your panel, were the panelists optimistic about moving ahead? Did they expect prosperity?

ECHO ZHAO: Some are optimistic, but maybe some are not. But both of them have confidence. We don’t know what happens next, but we know we can do it.

BRIAN SANTO: Okay. Thank you. It was a double summit, because there are two parts of the summit. One is for the electronics and semiconductor industry, one focuses on distribution. The participants in the distribution summit, did they comment on changes that are happening in the global supply chain?

ECHO ZHAO: That’s absolutely the hottest topic in Distribution Summit. And actually, during the roundtable of the Distribution Summit, we are discussing the topic of how to build the best safety electronics supply chain.

Due to the pandemic, the trade war, and export control, there are lots of uncertainty and changing in China components supply chain, such as out of stock, rising price.

Let’s take out of stock, for example. It brought a panic effect to the market. Actually some requirements may not be true. It just came from panic. People are panicked. I think it’s maybe a little like what happened to the toilet paper.


ECHO ZHAO: At the same time, some companies stock up large quantities of U.S. products. And it has great policy risks, such as with a new president in USA.

Our panelists got lot of questions from the on-site attendees, and it’s the longest roundtable in our Summit history. Everyone is very concerned about safety and how to face the changing global supply chain.

BRIAN SANTO: I was there in Shenzhen last year. It was very kind of you to invite me and Junko to come and visit and attend last year. This year, things were different. We have a pandemic.

So what’s the difference between the 2019 Double Summits and the 2020 Double Summits?

ECHO ZHAO: It’s a pity that we can’t have you guys here this year.

BRIAN SANTO: Thank you!

ECHO ZHAO: Honestly, in the organizer angle, 2020 is harder than 2019. But in the audience angle, it is much valuable considering the political and economic environment.

It is very inspiring for people to have a chance to have face-to-face (or at least mask-to-mask). They need to talk to each other. And for a huge event of this level, let’s say, we have more than 1000 audiences per day. Usually we need to prepare it several months ago, back to then, we cannot forecast how the situation goes, both in China and the world.

In the first half of this year, we change all our events to virtual, to online. It’s very hard this year.

We are deeply grateful to all of our speakers, like speakers from foreign countries, they attend the summit via video, and thanks for all speakers who came from all over the country. And there were two speakers from Hong Kong for the supply chain summit. That is M.K. Mak from On Semiconductor, and Kevin Wang, from Sourceability. Because there is still a strict quarantine policy in mainland China, both of them were isolated in a hotel room for 14 days.


ECHO ZHAO: And Kevin told me that he can not walk out of the room for the 14 days. And his door only opens three times per day for meals. And there is no room service, no laundry, even his towels and bed sheets did not change for the whole 14 days.

BRIAN SANTO: Wow! So that was quite a commitment from him to come and speak then.

ECHO ZHAO: Right. We are very supportive. I’m very moved.

BRIAN SANTO: I hope, once they were out of quarantine, they had a good experience.

ECHO ZHAO: Yeah. I hope they think it was worth it.

BRIAN SANTO: What about next year? Do you think we might be able to travel again?

ECHO ZHAO: Yeah. It really depends on the pandemic situation. I asked my panelists of the roundtable what’s their expectation for the pandemic? Some think it will end in six months, but still some think we need to wear masks at least for two years. What’s your expectation? Could you come to the Double Summit next year?

BRIAN SANTO: I hope so. Last year it was such a valuable experience hearing the presentations and getting to sit down with executives from that part of the world that we normally don’t get to see face to face and have some very open discussions. That was such a valuable thing. And I really do hope that, by next year, there’s a vaccine. That it’s spread wide enough and they make enough doses that most people get to do it. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

ECHO ZHAO: Yeah, me, too.

BRIAN SANTO: Echo, it was such a delight to speak with you. Thank you so much.

ECHO ZHAO: Thank you, Brian.

BRIAN SANTO: We were just speaking with Echo Zhao, from AspenCore’s operation in China.

Another part of the Double Summits is the World Electronics Achievement Awards. We’ve got an article recognizing this year’s WEAA Award recipients. There’s a link(https://www.eet-china.com/news/202011052100.html) to that on our episode web page, too.

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