TRISH CURRY WRITES—“If you are the best of the best and you want to push the boundaries of science: we want you,” reads a recruitment advertisement posted on the official WeChat account.

Huawei Technologies is ready to step up its game by attracting top talent to the Shenzen-based telecommunications company, with the promise of hefty paychecks.  CEO Ren Zhengfei announced that the company is prepared to pay new hires at least five times what their peers are making.  

The first batch of hires will include eight graduates with doctoral degrees, each of whom will receive an annual salary ranging from 896,000 yuan to 2.01 million yuan (US$130,000 and US$292,000), according to an email signed by Ren.  This, he seems to say, is a just reward for people  “who have made extraordinary achievements in mathematics, computer science, physics, materials science, chips, smart manufacturing, or chemistry – and who are hungry to become leaders in their fields.”

Huawei has spent more than ten percent of its sales revenue on research and development, every year over the past decade.  Last year, 45 percent of its 80,000 Huawei employees had their hands in the research and development pot, so it is not surprising that this tech giant is making bold moves to continuously woo top talent and keep itself on the cutting edge.  

Proprietary technology has taken on increasing strategic importance for Chinese companies, against the backdrop of escalating tensions between the US and China; advanced technologies are seen as the keys to the economy of the future. One of those keys is 5G (faster internet connections with massive capacity capabilities). A recent paper by the Defense Innovation Board, an independent federal advisory committee of the US Department of Defense, reports that “the leader of 5G stands to gain hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue over the next decade, with widespread job creation across the wireless technology sector.”  The paper went on to say, “The country that owns 5G will own many of these innovations and set standards for the rest of the world … that country is currently not likely to be the United States.” 5G wireless networks would have the ability to host big data, such as AI-powered manufacturing, smart city processes and even the traffic infrastructure for a world of driverless cars.  5G is a revolution of data, instead of watts.

Huawei’s investment in top talent is emblematic of China’s determination to compete, and win. Billions of dollars are at stake. The trade war is on, and so is the tech war—which will be won by wit and innovation. 

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