The comment, made by the head of Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on Saturday, came days after a European business lobby group criticized China’s plan to boost its domestic manufacturing.
The “Made in China 2025” plan was unveiled by Chinese central authorities two years ago.
The plan calls for rapid progress in 10 sectors of domestically-made products, such as robotics and bio-pharmaceuticals, enabling China to rank among the manufacturing powerhouses in today’s world.
In a report released on Tuesday, the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China accused the plan of “severely curtailing the position of foreign business”.
The report cited the new energy vehicle industry as one example, suggesting under Chinese policies, European businesses were facing intense pressure to turn over their advanced technologies in exchange for market access.
Speaking on the sidelines of the annual session of China’s top legislature, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology, Miao Wei, said the report is a misinterpretation of China’s policies.
“In the new energy vehicle industry, our condition for market access is that an enterprise must own a whole set of technologies, including technologies in developing and manufacturing. This requirement is not only directed at foreign businesses. You know, this industry enjoys favorable government subsidies, which may lure some businesses which don’t have any relevant technologies to come to the market. They buy components produced by others, assemble them, make money, and then leave. This is the scenario we want to prevent. This is why we have the policy.” Said Miao Wei.
Miao Wei added he didn’t think the Chinese government had the capability to force foreign enterprises to turn over their key technologies.
“Made in China 2025” is looking to reduce China’s reliance on imported components in strategically-important industries such as aerospace and information technology.
One goal is to make sure at least 70-percent of the market needs in those sectors can be supplied by domestically-made products by 2025.
This goal has upset some foreign businesses, with the report from the European business lobby group complaining that European businesses are seeing market access constricted further in sectors such as information technology and industrial robotics.
But Miao Wei suggests there is nothing wrong with China seeking to become more industrially independent.
He said: “Many of you may know, some technologies and products in the developed world are still prohibited from being exported to China. No one needs a reminder about the rise in trade protectionism across the world. But on the other hand, China is still a developing country, we need those technologies and products. So if we don’t develop them by ourselves, how could we seek further economic development? How could we meet the needs of our people? How could we ensure our national security?”
Miao Wei emphasized “Made in China 2025′ was by no means a government measure to challenge market rules: “In economic development, of course we need to let the market play a decisive role. But we also need the government to act as a guide. This is actually a common international practice.”
The Chinese plan is not the only manufacturing development strategy across the world.
The German federal government unveiled a project named “Industry 4.0” in 2013 in a move to promote automation and data exchange in its manufacturing.
In the US, long before Donald Trump, former President Barack Obama launched a program named “Advanced Manufacturing Partnership” in 2011, hoping to bring together national efforts to create high quality manufacturing jobs and enhance the country’s global competitiveness. – CRI
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