I believe PRC by late 60s had made integrated circuits for military use. PRC also made DRAM in 70s on its own. Of course, in comparison with the West and Japan, PRC due to its much weaker foundation struggled to manufacture their microelectronics at scale at low cost with sufficient quality. From what I’ve read, for this, critical are precision machinery, precision chemistry, and precision optics, which require decades of trial and error to do well. I have no experience with mechanical engineering or machinery, but I would believe that ironically, there are aspects of making extremely high quality or durability sewing machines that are in some sense more difficult than rockets and nuclear bombs, which in contrast need only perform the mission successfully once. At least I would believe that making the best sewing machines would require the highest quality machine tools, which PRC did not have access to at that time. Weapons engineer would almost certainly know more than I do about this.
This is more powerful than the state directed effort to making satellites and nuclear bombs, because it is broad based and grassroot based. It is self sustaining.
This is bullshit. Making missiles and nuclear bombs successfully gave PRC the geopolitical leverage to get better much terms with the West, through which PRC would later be able to acquire technology pertaining to manufacture of consumer products like sewing machines. Also, maybe it was not worth the effort to try to manufacture better sewing machines if the existing ones despite shortcomings more or less satisfied the most basic needs then in a country with very limited resources. At the very least, there would be very little to gain in comparison to the geopolitical leverage from missiles and nuclear bombs that contributed to better trade terms with the outside world, which in the long run is worth trillions of dollars.
The right-wing Chinese like you who whine about how PRC invested so much in nuclear bomb and missile development instead of bringing TVs to people’s homes are actually nutters if you look more closely. Beginning in the 80s, much because of prior successes in foreign relations and furthering of foreign trade that came with some technology transfer, PRC made rapid improvement in the manufacture at scale, at low cost, and higher quality of consumer products like TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners, and washing machines to bring to the ordinary home. PRC was able to import some (not state-of-the-art) microelectronics fabrication technology from West and Japan as well.
To be fair, I often see similar problems in mindset in Chinese who have immigrated to the West. They are often impatient for money and status. They hold false hopes of getting something for little or without downside. The reality is that if you’re born from what is objectively a lower background, almost certainly you’ll have to work smarter or work harder to catch up, and even if you do that without fault, you or your kids may still be behind in the next generation, since the others who began advantaged improve themselves too, with more money or better technology or better connections to begin with. Statistically, most people who start off behind are still behind in the next generation, and it applies to nations too. PRC is an exception in that it moved up tremendously in the so called hierarchy of nations between 1950-1975, and arguably more so than it did between 1975-2000. Whining or blaming or making excuses will not change this.
By the way, much of major gains of PRC of high international visibility over the past 5 years are really at the core the result of some solid long-term accumulation of both expertise and capital, 厚积薄发 per Chinese idiom. It certainly was not some magic of incentivization or resource allocation of market economy, and I generally dislike people who overemphasize the fruit while downplaying or deluding with respect to the process of obtaining it.
Below I shall copy over a few comments of weapons_engineer which have been highly appraised by myself.