China’s startup ‘Little Giants’ is its Latest Weapon in the US Tech War

In today’s China, behemoths like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd. are out of favor, but “little giants” are on the rise.

“Little Giants” is the title given to a fresh crop of startups chosen as part of a large government initiative aimed at building a technological industry capable of competing with Silicon Valley. These often-overlooked businesses have shown to be innovative and unique, and they’re focusing on strategically essential industries like robotics, quantum computing, and semiconductors.

After a government examination of his technology, Wu Gansha obtained the title of Little Giants for his automated driving firm. Uisee, a Beijing-based corporation, gained further credibility and financial benefits as a result of this.

It raised almost 1 billion yuan ($157 million) last year, including funds from a state-owned fund. It’s also turned into a unicorn, with a market capitalization of at least $1 billion.

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Wu added, “It’s an honor to wear the little giant label.” “The project’s core requirement is that the companies have a specialty that others don’t.”

The initiative has been around for more than a decade, but it has gained new momentum in the wake of Beijing’s massive assault on big enterprises such as Alibaba and Tencent. The government’s endorsement of the little giants’ label has become a valuable indicator of government approval, indicating to investors and employees that the enterprises are immune from regulatory action. President Xi Jinping has given the program his personal blessing.

“This helps entrepreneurs in a variety of ways: it’s a subsidy.” It’s a stipend. It’s a privilege. “It’s a seal of approval,” said Lee Kai-Fu, founder and managing director of Sinovation, a venture capital firm.

  China has generally followed the Silicon Valley model for the past two decades, allowing entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams with little government involvement. As a result, companies like Alibaba, Tencent, and ByteDance Ltd., the inventor of the popular TikTok short-video app, have had tremendous success.

“What the country is trying to push is more hardcore technology,” said Yipin Ng, a founding partner of Yunqi Partners, a venture capital firm that focuses on small businesses. “In that sense, it’s more in line with what they’re promoting — things that improve China’s competitiveness.”