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China to gain more momentum in smart manufacturing

Hu Yongqi
Updated: May 17,2017 10:24 PM

China will focus on smart manufacturing by integrating the strategy of “Made in China 2025” with the Internet Plus initiative, and with entrepreneurship and innovation to upgrade the country’s traditional industries and help advance economic restructuring.

The decision was made at a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on May 17, when a report on the strategy’s implementation was delivered.

Since implementing the strategy in 2015, China has seen steady progress in industrial capabilities, smart manufacturing, innovations, and product quality and branding. A recent case in point was the passenger jet C919, which took its first test flight earlier this month.

The meeting decided to focus on smart manufacturing and further deploy new technologies such as industrial internet to turn manufacturing into a smarter and greener sector offering better services and products.

Average productivity was up by 38 percent for China’s first 109 pilot projects in smart manufacturing, while operating costs dropped by 21 percent, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

The Premier said “Made in China 2025”, as a crucial part of supply-side structural reform, is vital to moving the country’s economy up the value chain. The key is to exploit the advantages of China’s domestic market and human resources, as well as further promoting basic research and innovations, he said.

“Implementation of the strategy has introduced strength to the real economy, especially equipment manufacturing. However, we should also stay aware of our weak links, as much of the industry is at the medium and lower end of global supply,” Premier Li said.

“Made in China 2025” was first unveiled in his Government Work Report in March 2015. Two months later, the State Council released a guideline focusing on five key projects, including smart manufacturing, and 10 key fields such as new materials.

Key technologies will be at the top of the agenda, including independent research and development. Innovative development in fields such as new materials and robots will be accelerated.

As of May 17, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has approved pilot regions for the strategy, namely 12 cities such as Ningbo in Zhejiang province and three city clusters in provinces such as Jiangsu. Some of them will be designated as national demonstration areas, which will get favorable policies in investment, financing and other fields.

The Premier urged establishing demonstration areas, where small and medium-sized enterprises can develop with large companies for collaborated growth and greater global competitiveness.

The meeting also decided to cultivate a new model of incorporating the manufacturing sector with the internet Plus initiative. The country was set to strengthen cooperation with other countries to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

China will introduce advanced management while raising quality standards and making companies keep quality as a priority. More efforts will be made to attract and recruit talent from home and abroad. More items for government approvals will be streamlined with lower threshold for market access and improved oversight to nurture an excellent business environment. Greater financing support will be given to the real economy to increase resources for industrial upgrading. Intellectual property rights will also be given greater emphasis to safeguard the legitimate rights of market entities.