Manufacturing upgrade moves from theory to action in 2017

Updated 2016-12-27 11:13:58 Global Times

Gov't to fully implement 'Made in China 2025' strategy

China will put a plan to upgrade its manufacturing sector into action in 2017, after policy documents and designs were issued under the "Made in China 2025" strategy that aims to transform China from a world factory to a manufacturing power.

China will maintain its focus on innovation as a new growth driver and "fully" implement the "Made in China 2025" strategy in 2017, Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei told a meeting of the country's top industrial policymakers at the ministry on Monday.

The meeting previewed the ministry's agenda for the development of the country's industrial sector next year, and implementing the "Made in China 2025" strategy topped the agenda.

Miao said China will focus on 30 projects to achieve goals under the "One plus X" mechanism, which consists of one main strategy - "Made in China 2025" - and specific support programs, and major breakthrough are expected within one to two years, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Specific actions expected in 2017 include adding two or three national manufacturing innovation centers, carrying out plans to improve industrial foundations, and developing high-tech products and technologies in sectors such as advanced manufacturing equipment, next-generation information technology and new materials, according to Miao.

The MIIT will also publish more guidelines for the development of key technologies, establish public platforms to serve the development of industrial technologies, and guide local governments and companies to increase investment in the industrial sector, according to Miao.

Experts said the government has been focused on policy designs since the introduction of the "Made in China 2025" strategy in March 2015, and 2017 is the year for taking action.

"After over a year of setting specific policies, [the 'Made in China 2025' strategy] enters the stage of implementation," Zuo Shiquan, an expert at the Beijing-based CCID Institute under the ministry, told the Global Times on Monday.

"And the meeting [on Monday] suggests that we will see some concrete action in 2017."

The government will likely to take specific measures, including financial and policy support, to carry out five projects that are deemed key for the strategy - innovation centers, intelligent manufacturing, industrial foundation improvements, green development and advanced manufacturing equipment, according to Zou.

Both domestic and foreign companies in these sectors will receive support from the government, according to Liu Xuezhi, a macroeconomist with Bank of Communications.

"[Manufacturing upgrading] is a top priority for China, as we try to adjust the economic growth structure, and I expect a considerable amount of resources, financial and policy, will be put into these areas," Liu told the Global Times on Monday.

However, such an ambitious plan to make China a manufacturing power is likely to run into some counter forces, both internally and externally, experts said.

Internally, as the Chinese economy is facing persistent downturn pressure, implementation of the plan might be slowed down because the process of upgrading the manufacturing sector, especially in areas with overcapacity, will put more pressure on the economy, Liu said.

China also faces competition from traditional industrial powers such as the US and Germany, which have initiatives similar to China's "Made in China 2025". In the US it is the Industrial Internet Consortium and in Germany, it is Industrial 4.0, experts said.

Though those are strong competitors, China has its own advantages, such as a vast domestic market with growing demand for advanced products and a well-established industrial chain, Zou said.

"We should not focus on the competition, but fully use our advantages in implementing the strategy," he said.

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