China works to retain its manufacturing crown


The Chinese government has announced intentions to create 15 new innovation hubs throughout the country by the year 2020, in a bid to boost its manufacturing industry, it has been reported.

Amid competition from various countries, including India, and the countries involved in America’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, China will double down in its area of expertise, in an attempt to retain its title of the world’s workshop.

These new innovation centres will form a network in which both the government and private enterprise are able to co-invest in, just the latest step since the country’s economic liberalisation in the 1980’s.

“The government will collaborate with the private sector and they will both share the spoils. The amount of investment will be enormous,”  said Li Beiguang, an official at the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

‘Made in China 2025’ is the name of the latest government scheme to enhance manufacturing. The new manufacturing bases are part of this first 10 year plan. The initiative outlines what the People’s Republic will focus on, in a plan released by China’s State Council.

The plan took two and a half years to create, and was spearheaded by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, with the assistance of 150 experts from the China Academy of Engineering.

The plan reiterates that the manufacturing innovation centres, as part of the full ‘Made in China 2025’ plan, will be market orientated, drawing inspiration from Germany’s ‘Industry 4.0’ plan of 2011.

The German plan, and now the Chinese initiative, are both part of a technological wave which is being termed the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’. The theme at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, proponents of the Fourth Industrial Revolution push towards technological development driven by decentralised production and smart connectivity.

The development of the ‘smart city‘ is one aspect of this revolution. The 15 manufacturing innovation hubs are demonstrative of this move towards decentralised, yet still connected, manufacturing, which is at the cornerstone of the movement.

China currently accounts for 20% of the world’s manufacturing, but this continued hold is far from guaranteed. As methods such as 3D printing usher in the 4th Industrial Revolution, and decentralise production, China must stay ahead of the curve in order to maintain, and indeed improve, its status.

A key aim of the plan is to drastically upgrade Chinese industry, and building a total of 40 innovation centres by the year 2025. With fierce competition from India and other Asian rivals, the clock may be ticking.


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