Selling our biggest chip factory to the Chinese makes us look hopelessly naive

Computer chips are the building blocks of a modern economy and ministers have fallen asleep at the wheel by waving this deal through

This article for the Telegraph dated 7th July 2021 by Ben Wright, begins with these words:

Does this country have an industrial policy? Like, a real one? And, if so, can someone explain it to me?

I only ask because, while everyone has been running around with their hair on fire at the possibility of the country’s fourth largest supermarket chain being snapped up by private equity buyers, the UK’s largest semiconductor plant was quietly sold to a Chinese-owned firm this week.

Nexperia, a Dutch business owned by Chinese electronics company Wingtech, snapped up Newport Wafer Fab’s factory in South Wales for £65m on Monday. Let the full weight of that information sink in for a moment. The UK’s largest microchip factory. Sold. For relative pocket change. To the Chinese.

What’s all the more extraordinary is that the ink is barely dry on the UK’s shiny new National Security and Investment Act. This law, which only gained royal assent in April, was specifically designed to make it easier for the Government to block state-backed companies from snapping up sensitive assets.

“The Government is yet to explain why we are turning a blind eye to Britain's largest semiconductor foundry falling into the hands of an entity from a country that has a track record of using technology to create geopolitical leverage,” says Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs select committee.

When he puts it like that, it does sound kind of odd, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s even odder. We're talking about computer chips here - the very building blocks of the modern economy.

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Selling our biggest chip factory to the Chinese makes us look hopelessly naive
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Newport Wafer Fab’s factory in South Wales

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