Innovation key driver in overall rise of industry

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Stronger innovation capabilities are facilitating industrial growth in China, which will help further the high-quality development of the nation's sprawling manufacturing sector, experts said on Monday.

The remark came after China's industrial output increased 9.6 percent on a yearly basis in 2021, 1.5 percentage points higher than GDP growth, according to the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

Meanwhile, China's research and development expenditure rose 14.2 percent year-on-year last year, four percentage points higher than that in the previous year, accounting for 2.44 percent of the GDP.

Ning Jizhe, head of the NBS, said innovation has played a bigger role in driving growth, and the manufacturing sector has recorded relatively fast growth.

Specifically, output from high-tech manufacturing and equipment manufacturing rose 18.2 percent and 12.9 percent year-on-year, respectively, 8.6 percentage points and 3.3 percentage points higher than that of overall industrial output.

Qin Hailin, president of Beijing-based market research company CCID Consulting, said China's innovation capabilities have continued to grow, which are fueling the expansion of emerging industries and new products.

More capital is going to the high-tech sector, which will also fuel the in-depth integration of the digital and real economies, and facilitate the high-quality development of manufacturing in China, Qin said.

Last year, investment in high-tech industries increased by 17.1 percent, 12.2 percentage points faster than total investment. Among the total, investment in high-tech manufacturing and high-tech service industries increased 22.2 percent and 7.9 percent year-on-year, respectively.

Yao Jingyuan, former chief economist at the NBS, said China's industrial economy maintained a relatively good performance in 2021. In addition to constant upgrades in industrial structure, the proportion of manufacturing in China's GDP increased by 1.1 percentage points to 27 percent.

That marked a major reversal to the past decade when the proportion of manufacturing in GDP had been gradually declining, Yao said. Experts warned earlier that a decline of manufacturing's role in China's GDP risked dragging down current economic growth and affecting urban employment.

"But now we have not only stabilized the proportion but also improved the figure. That was a major achievement for 2021," Yao added.

In December, industrial output grew 4.3 percent on a yearly basis, an increase of 0.42 percent month-on-month.

Zheng Houcheng, head of the research institute at Yingda Securities Co Ltd, said China's industrial sector is facing more positive factors this year than in 2021. For instance, stabilizing investment has become an important point for the macroeconomy.

With positive factors ahead, monthly industrial output figures in 2022 are likely to be better than their counterparts seen last year, Zheng said.

Xiao Yaqing, minister of industry and information technology, China's top industry regulator, said earlier that stabilizing industrial growth will be the ministry's top priority in 2022, and it will ratchet up resources to boost the manufacturing sector's innovation capabilities.

Data from the NBS also showed that from January to November, profits from industrial enterprises above a designated size were 7.98 trillion yuan ($1.3 trillion), up 38 percent year-on-year, with an average two-year growth rate of 18.9 percent.

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