“Exert oneself to the fullest until death, and only then be at peace.” - “Memoir on the Final Campaign,” written by Zhuge Liang in the Three Kingdoms period.

After 20 years of establishment, the highly anticipated Chinese semiconductor company, SMIC, has successfully returned to the A-share market after passing its meeting.

Next week marks the ninth anniversary of the passing of Jiang Shangzhou, former chairman of SMIC. I have visited SMIC several times and our companies also have some connections. I wrote this article to commemorate this remarkable pioneer and leader.

One, Strategist. Link to heading

The least proud second generation Red Official, probably ranked second among the boats on the river, with no one willing to rank first.

As one of the first group of students who studied and graduated from the legendary school ETH after China’s reform and opening-up policy, Dr. Jiang Shangzhou entered officialdom at the age of 40. Over the past few decades, he has changed many positions across vast distances, but his administrative level has never been high.

However, if we review Jiang Shangzhou’s history, he is undoubtedly the most reputable “strategist” and “pragmatist”:

Plan to transform Sanya from a fishing village into a tourist city.

Trying to turn Yangpu into a mini-Hong Kong and a petrochemical base.

The initiator of the Large Aircraft Project and the promoter for COMAC’s Shanghai settlement.

Founders and Guardians of SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation)

The planner and leader of the Zhangjiang High-Tech Semiconductor Industry.

Hosting the selection of the first batch of major national science and technology projects, which includes the lunar exploration project and the semiconductor equipment (such as lithography and etching machines) that everyone is concerned about today…


Two. Family Link to heading

The father of Jiang Shangzhou, Jiang Yizhen, is an old revolutionary soldier who participated in the 25,000 li Long March. He has previously held positions such as Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Health, Governor of Fujian Province, and Secretary of the Hebei Provincial Committee.

Jiangshangzhou’s older brother Jiangshang Hong is a legendary hero who once plotted to assassinate Jiang Qing during the Cultural Revolution and was sentenced to life in prison, but was later exonerated after the end of the Revolution.

It cannot be denied that Jiang Yizhen’s connections may have saved Jiang Shanghong’s life. From another perspective, resourceful Jiang Shangzhou did not engage in opportunistic behavior in his career.

In fact, he despises the games played in government circles. His academic background leaves no room for doubt when it comes to his promotion and wealth: in the 1980s, even with a domestic degree from a third-tier university, he stood out among his peers.

Jiang Shangzhou, who was delayed by the Cultural Revolution for ten years, was most concerned with how to serve his country through practical work. For this reason, he bravely went to Hainan, while his wife, Wu Qidi, who later became the president of Tongji University, lived apart from him for a long time. Wu Qidi, who also graduated from Tsinghua and ETH, was China’s first democratically elected university president and was highly praised at that time.

3. 1990s: Fall of Yangpu Link to heading

On the road to the rise of a great nation, there were many places that young people today cannot imagine. They feel that China is now so powerful that it should not hesitate to deal with imperialism.

In fact, in the substantive relations between nations, superficial vanity has always just been a facade.

Returning to 1990, after experiencing the first decade of reform and opening up, the GDP of mainland China was only 387.8 billion US dollars. At that time, Hong Kong, with a population of only over 5 million, had a GDP that was 20% higher than that of the mainland, while Taiwan, with a population of 20 million, had a GDP that was approximately 40% higher than that of the mainland.

At that time, what we needed to solve was the employment and subsistence problems of 1.1 billion people, and attracting investment and introducing foreign technology was the hard truth for development.

At that time, officials who were able to set aside their own interests and even bring in foreign investment were genuinely serving the people.

Yangpu is a natural deep-water port of high quality in Hainan. The national leaders had great foresight in planning an extremely avant-garde bonded development zone here, which is analogous to today’s Hainan New Policy.

As the first director of Yangpu Development District, Jiang Shangzhou falls here.

Readers can search for the “Yangpu Incident” that occurred back then on their own.

The contradictory issue between face and stomach has resurfaced on the internet in recent years.

Amidst the clamor of various voices advocating for combat and the manipulation of public opinion by the media, the government diligently reminds us that there are 600 million people in our country with a monthly income of only 1000 yuan.

After successfully planning the infrastructure and successfully negotiating the introduction of the first large foreign company in Yangpu, Jiang Shangzhou was transferred to work at the Shanghai Economic Commission.

In Shanghai, the boat on the river arrives at the place where heroes demonstrate their martial arts.

4. 2000s: SMIC and the semiconductor industry. Link to heading

The experience in Yangpu has strengthened Jiang Shangzhou’s determination to prioritize work over official positions.

Anyone can shout slogans, but only those who accomplish things are true heroes.

Today, Shanghai once again shoulders the responsibility of China’s high-tech manufacturing, with Jiang Shangzhou making magnificent contributions.

Jiangshangzhou clearly recognizes that semiconductor chips are a vital national asset, but catching up with advanced technology cannot be achieved in just five or ten years. At that time, the slow return on investment and high risks in semiconductor manufacturing were a major challenge for political achievements.

However, no matter what, you have to take the first step to get to the next step. And this happened twenty years ago.

There is a lot of information online about the establishment of SMIC, so I shall not elaborate further. It is worth emphasizing that Jiang Shangzhou did not narrow-mindedly classify SMIC as a national enterprise for exaggerated publicity, but on the contrary, with Richard Chang, he built it as a foreign-owned enterprise with a significant introduction of both Chinese and foreign capital, even including Goldman Sachs and Walden from the United States.

This Longzhong-style planning allowed Zhongxin to work hard to bypass the restrictions of the Wassenaar Arrangement, acquire a large amount of second-hand semiconductor equipment and quickly join the race.

As a extensively invested industry, the semiconductor industry’s top priority is survival.

Before this year’s mass production of DRAM by Hefei Changxin, countless young people lamented the lack of domestically produced high-priced memory. In fact, in the 1990s, both First Steel NEC and Huahong produced memory, and SMIC’s main business was also contract manufacturing DRAM. It is not that the country did not attach importance to it.

As the main body of the 909 Project, Huahong has a chairman who is a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, which is unimaginable in today’s context.

However, there was no way around it. Back then, producing memory did not make any profits and both funding and technical reserves were insufficient.

At the time, China was not yet wealthy, and gradual development was fundamental.

“In the field of semiconductor technology, it is not necessary for us to be proficient in everything. As long as we stay ahead of a few things compared to foreign countries, we can pave our own development path.” - Jiang Shangzhou, 2010.

Amid TSMC’s attempts to stifle SMIC in the legal battle, some have questioned why government intervention has not been utilized. Fortunately, there were not as many armchair activists hijacking public opinion back then. Families understood the importance of sacrificing certain companies to safeguard the overall environment for technology and foreign investment.

The first ones to be hurt by the idea of smashing Japanese cars and sanctioning companies like Apple and Qualcomm are millions of low-wage industry workers, and the impact of losing technological cooperation and investment in the long term is even more unimaginable. Today, we are not strong enough to risk sinking to a degree of saving other companies like we did with SMIC.

The chaos in reality is caused by inherent defects within the United States. Politicians represent only a portion of the public opinion and gain votes by manufacturing disputes. However, Wall Street, American technology companies, and even consumers are still cooperating with and reliant on Chinese manufacturing.

Both sides are engaged in a contest of great power, it is not enough to only focus on the gains and losses of a particular matter, but also to consider the continuous enhancement on our side over the long process, while the United States is constantly weakening.

5. The endless road has no destination, the evening rain and western wind accompany the boat on the river. Link to heading

On Douban, both of Mr. Jiang’s books, “Impressions of Jiang Shangzhou on the River” and “China Chip: A Biography of Dr. Jiang Shangzhou, a Strategic Scientist,” are in a state of no readership or comments.

When we are admiring the rise of the national flag through SMIC, many cannot recall the names of the heroes of that era.

There was once a particularly idealistic statement: Elite schools are the cornerstone of state power, and the purpose of nurturing students is to make the country believe in the truth.

The whole family of Jiang Shangzhou from the Department of Radio at Tsinghua is probably the best proof of this statement. Professor Wu Jiangfeng, also a Tsinghua alumnus, has devoted himself to the field of semiconductors.

“The ‘Tsinghua faction’ is the core pillar of China’s semiconductor industry, and can even be said to be a dominant force. However, it is saddening that Mr. Jiang, who played a prominent role in today’s remarkable achievements, can no longer witness them.”

It cannot be denied that, when overtaking on corners became a habit, we missed many opportunities for iterative progress in basic disciplines over the years. This has caused various difficulties for today’s high-tech, such as engines, advanced materials, precision instruments, industrial software, and so on.

To address these disparities, one should adopt a pragmatic approach.

During the coordination of the national major science and technology projects, the riverboat on the river requested that the attending expert academicians abandon the representation of their own unit’s interests and purely provide opinions based on personal knowledge, and that they not be named.

Only in this way can “saying the truth” and “speaking honestly” become easy.

The times call for more individuals like Mr. Jiang, who continuously remind the nation and its people to adopt a policy of biding their time, nurturing their strengths, and respecting the laws of scientific development. They caution against being held hostage to emotions and various forms of online violence.

After Zhang Ruijing was forced out, Jiang Shangzhou was appointed to save Zhongxin International. The pressure and difficulty of the job during those two years were beyond imagination. Jiang, who was already suffering from cancer, passed away at the early age of 64.

At the end of his life, Jiang Shangzhou entrusted his legacy to his old classmate Zhang Wenyi, in the form of shares in Zhongxin International. From the subsequent struggle for ownership of these shares, we can see the same wise and well-intentioned strategy that Zhuge Liang and Kong Ming employed.

During his lifetime, Jiang Shangzhou was more like a tragic hero. As time passed, the seeds he planted gradually grew into towering trees, allowing us to better understand the blood, sweat, and tears Mr. Jiang poured into the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

If the victory was not yet achieved, the warrior died first, leaving heroes with tears streaming down their cheeks.