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Samsung chief travels to China first time in 3 years, meets with key officials

March 26, 2023 - 15:05 By Jo He-rim
Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong (second from left) inspects the Samsung Electro-Mechanics’ key production facility for Multilayer Ceramic Capacitor in Tianjin, China, Friday. (Samsung Electronics)

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong is making the most out of his first trip to China in three years, inspecting the affiliates’ production facilities, meeting with key Chinese officials and attending a high-profile summit with global business leaders.

Samsung Electronics said Lee attended the China Development Forum, a three-day forum that kicked off Saturday in Beijing. There, Lee met with heads of major tech giants to exchange opinions on various agendas, including global management issues and future industry trends and discussed on mid- to long-term cooperation, the tech giant said.

Key participants of the forum included Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Mercedes-Benz Group Chairman Ola Kallenius and Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

The CDF is an annual forum organized by the Development Research Center of China's State Council, first launched in 2000. This year, participants from global tech leaders and high-ranking government officials were to discuss opportunities in the Chinese market, stabilization of global supply chains and the green transition, under the theme of “Economic Recovery: Opportunities and Cooperation.”

On Friday, Lee met with Chen Miner, the party secretary of Tianjin, who is also a confidant of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Samsung Display Chief Executive Officer Choi Joo-sun, Samsung Electro-Mechanics CEO Chang Duck-hyun and Yang Geol, the Samsung Electronics president in charge of the China Strategy Cooperation Office were among key officials who joined the meeting, the company said.

With the trip coming only days after the United States released details of the guardrails provisions for its CHIPS for American Incentive Program, eyes are on what Lee may have discussed with the Chinese officials, with Samsung running some of its key chip manufacturing plants there.

The US guardrail provisions revealed limit the recipient of governmental subsidies from increasing production capacity in China, amid the intensifying Washington-Beijing rivalry.

Lee also inspected Samsung Electro-Mechanics’ key production facility for Multilayer Ceramic Capacitor in Tianjin, China on Friday, where he encouraged workers there.

The plant is one of Samsung’s two key production facilities for MLCC, having opened in Tianjin in 2021. MLCC regulates the current’s flow in a circuit and prevents electromagnetic interference between components.

Prior to the MLCC plant inspection, Lee met with the regional corporate heads of Samsung affiliates in Tianjin -- Samsung Electronics, Samsung Display, Samsung Electro-Mechanics and Samsung SDI -- the tech giant said.

Tianjin, the northern municipality neighboring Beijing, is a strategic region for Samsung in China. Aside from the MLCC plant, Samsung Electro-Mechanic also has a camera module plant there. Samsung Display has a smartphone organic light-emitting diode production plant and Samsung SDI produces secondary batteries that are used in smart devices and electric vehicles.

In his last visit to China three years ago, Lee met with government officials of Shaanxi province and inspected the Xian chip plants.