Automation plans come amid escalating tech rivalry with US
China has unveiled its new plan for smart manufacturing – it intends to digitize the operations of 70% of its domestic manufacturers by 2025.
Under the initiative, jointly announced by several government agencies, including the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, it aims to achieve a minimum annual growth of 20% in robotics sales. It also wants to establish a group of industry champions to double the country’s “robot density.”
According to a report by the International Federation of Robotics, measured by the number of units per 10,000 employees, China ranked ninth in robot density in 2020, up from 25th place five years earlier.
Its density last year was 246 per 10,000 employees, which meant it lagged behind South Korea, which has a current density of 932 and has ranked first since 2010. Nonetheless, China’s level was well above the global average of 126, and close to the United States’ 255.
The new plan comes as Beijing is trying to upgrade its economy amid a deepening technology rivalry with the US, citing an “increasingly complicated” global environment and “increasingly intense” competition.
A separate plan on the robot industry says China’s overall robotics capabilities will be among the world’s best by 2035, when robots will become an important part of the country’s economic development, daily lives, and social governance.
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