Firms come to terms with upgrades in manufacturing, spur innovation
BEIJING — Once known as the “world’s factory” for producing cheap goods, China is relentlessly moving into an advanced stage in manufacturing upgrades at a time when the real economy matters like never before.
Two years after China announced its “Made in China 2025” strategy, despite lingering pressure on overall industries, progress on new industries, mass innovation and smart manufacturing is painting a new picture.
For many Chinese entrepreneurs, there have been hard times, especially when financing became difficult as the vibrant real estate market and the financial sector attracted too much funding from investors.
Ge Zhengang, chairman of Longcheer, a smartphone producer in southern China’s Guangdong province, said while innovation is vital for increasing profits, it requires financial support.
On the other hand, the higher costs of energy, labor, logistics and management have further weakened the profitability of manufacturing enterprises.
Facing pressure from financing and rising costs, some of the companies that entered the business in the same period as Longcheer have already turned to real estate, or even closed, according to Ge.
The tendency of capital flowing out of the real economy should be regarded as a warning sign that “Made in China” products need transformation and upgrading, according to Xin Guobin, vice-minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology or MIIT.
But Xin also pointed out that the problem has not affected the fundamentals of the sector, and such pressure is pushing Chinese enterprises to seek innovation in highend, smart and green manufacturing.
Dong Mingzhu, chairperson of China’s leading appliances maker Gree Electric Appliances, said that with China’s economy gradually firming up, the “winter” for Chinese manufacturers is passing.
“Instead of taking a break, we stored a lot of energy in the winter,” she told Xinhua.
In the first quarter of this year, Gree Electric Appliances reported a year-on-year profit surge of 27.6 percent, up from a 23.05 percent annual growth in net profit in 2016.
Dong attributed the strong rise in profit to technological breakthroughs, which turned Chinese manufacturers from followers to trend leaders in the market. Her company now has a research and development team of nearly 10,000 employees.
year-on-year rise in output of China’s high-tech sector in the first half of this year rise in average productivity of first 109 pilot projects in smart manufacturing
In the larger picture, in the first half of this year, hightech and equipment manufacturing sectors led the country’s industrial growth, with year-on-year output increases of 13.1 percent and 11.5 percent, respectively, compared with a 6.9 percent rise in overall output.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government has never ceased its efforts to push the industrial upgrading progress to a further stage.
According to decisions at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on July 26, China will establish national-level demonstration areas for the “Made in China 2025” plan, a blueprint to upgrade the country’s manufacturing sector.
The national demonstration areas will be established in cities and city clusters in the eastern, central and west-