For years, many of Communist China's best and brightest engineers and students came to the United States to take high-tech jobs away from Americans. That's why, when I lecture on college campuses, a lot of guys tell me they are switching to accounting from engineering because there aren't many engineering jobs available to Americans. Now, more and more, U.S. high-tech firms are moving to China. One of Silicon Valley's most prominent firms, Applied Materials, which made the equipment to perfect the first computer chips, and which is the world's biggest supplier of equipment to make semiconductors, solar panels and flat-panel displays, is moving from Santa Clara, California to China. Applied Materials has built its largest research lab in China, and even held its annual shareholders' meeting there.
Western companies are attracted to China's huge reservoir of cheap engineers plus subsidies offered by many Chinese cities and regions. A city southwest of Beijing -- can you believe? -- has 47 colleges churning out engineers with master's degrees who can be hired for $730 a month. The chief executive of Applied Materials says that researchers must be ready to move to China if they want to do cutting-edge work on solar manufacturing.
Other U.S. companies and their engineers are increasingly drawn to China as China develops a high-tech economy that directly competes with the United States. A few U.S. companies are even making deals with Chinese companies to license Chinese technology. China will soon be producing 2/3rds of the world's solar panels. Intel has opened research labs in Beijing for semiconductors and server networks, since China is the biggest market for desktop computers.
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