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New type of industrialization vital to growth of China

Author  :  Hu Angang     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2017-06-26

The “Made in China 2025” strategy is a roadmap unveiled by the State Council in 2015 to guide the country’s advanced industrial manufacturing. Now the top-level design of the strategy has generally taken shape. The five major projects it calls for have started, including establishing a manufacturing innovation center, strengthening the industrial base and boosting intelligent manufacturing.

As the largest manufacturer in the world, China has the basic hallmarks of post-industrialization.

A number of statistical indicators show the country’s success in industrial development, including its share and global competitiveness in various technical industries and products in the international market, especially the Asian market.

According to the Asian Economic Integration Report 2015 released by the Asian Development Bank in January 2016, China ranked first in the export of high-tech products. It accounted for 43.7 percent of the Asian market in 2014, up from 9.4 percent in 2000. Moreover, the proportions of exports of mid-high-tech, mid-low-tech and even low-tech products also showed upward trends from 2000 to 2014.

The growth not only indicates China’s global competitiveness in the four levels of technical products, but suggests that the country’s strategy of implementing a new model of industrialization has been successful.

For China, the key question concerns the form of industrialization rather than whether to industrialize. The answer varies in different stages of industrialization.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the plan was to develop from “traditional industrialization” to a “new type of industrialization.” As early as 2002, the CPC Central Committee had prospectively proposed following a new path of industrialization with Chinese characteristics.

According to the Report of the 16th CPC National Congress, “It is necessary to persist in using information technology (IT) to propel industrialization, which will, in turn, stimulate IT application, blazing a new trail to industrialization featuring high scientific and technological content, good economic returns, low resource consumption, little environmental pollution and a full display of advantages in human resources.” The strategy, regarded as the first version of China’s new type of industrialization, is vastly different from traditional industrialization implemented in the first half of the 20th century.

To China, the core issue for the present and the long term is not whether to carry out industrialization or de-industrialize, but how to become a newly industrialized country and manufacturing power. Playing a central role in industry, the manufacturing sector is not only the engine propelling national industrialization, urbanization and modernization but also the core body of the national economy and the basis for China’s technological innovation and international competitiveness.

The “Made in China 2025” strategy, dubbed China’s Industrialization 2.0, pointed out prominent problems in the country’s industrialization drive. Compared with international standards, China is a big manufacturing power but not a strong one. It still has a long way to go in such aspects as independent innovation, energy use, industrial structure, informatization, quality and effectiveness, facing urgent and formidable tasks in transformation, upgrading and exponential development. Internationally, Chinese manufacturing is under pressure from both developed and other developing countries.

Therefore, sticking to the new path of industrialization and forging an internationally competitive manufacturing sector is the road China must take to improve its comprehensive strength, safeguard national security and grow into a world power.

This article was edited and translated from Beijing Daily. Hu Angang is director of the Institute of National Conditions at Tsinghua University.

Editor: Bai Le

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