China's transition into a great manufacturing power

Updated 2017-10-10 15:02:54 CGTN

By tapping into its vast labor force, China has driven sales and shipment volumes worldwide, giving it a great head start in the manufacturing industry.

However, as the global manufacturing industry transforms into a more automated one, China is also quickly picking up tricks of the trade to move up the value chain. This is already evident in the mobile phone space.

In the lighting industry, things are looking bright as well.

CGTN explores how China is transitioning from a manufacturing hub into a great manufacturing power.

Wang Yaohai, Chairman of Opple Lighting, is optimistic about the industry's prospects, saying, "as long as there's night, there's always a need for illumination."

"At the technical level, the threshold for entry is relatively low, but the threshold is high if you want to do it well," he says.

"Traditional lighting in the past has relied on big foreign brands, like GE, Philips, Osram… Today, new technology has pulled the entire industry's domestic and overseas technology to the same level," Wang adds.

As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Dismissing overcapacity concerns

Much has been said about China's excess manufacturing supply (in certain industries) and cut-throat competition, but Wang is unperturbed.

"At the low end, China's manufacturing sectors are facing similar problems of overcapacity. In contrast, consumption is upgrading, and the demand for better and targeted products in the EU and US markets has been on the rise," he says, adding that Chinese enterprises are very competitive in overseas markets.

Therefore, the key lies in quality, Wang emphasizes.

In fact, Wang wants to expand global sales, and believes the industry is well-positioned to capitalize on the government's "Made in China 2025" plan. The plan looks to increase domestic content of core components to 40 percent by 2020 and 70 percent by 2025. It is understood the present percentage is rather low for higher-technology goods.

As it is, China is at the forefront of producing energy-efficient solutions and has more to achieve, he says.

Adapt with the times

Opple Lighting, now one of China's leading LED lighting brands, has been around for 20 years.

Zhou Xiaoying, a worker at Opple Lighting, has seen how the industry changed from incandescent bulbs to energy-saving bulbs, and now, LED bulbs.

While she acknowledges the industry's rapid change, she remains hopeful and competitive.

"Whenever I passed by a super market or hotel, I would stop and check the brand. If they weren't Opple, I would compare their advantages with Opple," Zhou says.

She is also adaptive, knowing that if a worker doesn't change with the new technology, he or she will be let go.

If all employees share the same mindset as Zhou, China's efforts to strike a balance between restructuring (cutting excess capacity) and laying-off staff will pay off sooner than later.

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