Members of the advisory Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee attending its annual session have stressed the importance of manufacturing to the economy.
"Some people thought that equipment manufacturing is no longer relevant in the information age. But the fact is, no technology, even in the age of the knowledge economy, could exist and develop without the equipment manufacturing industry," said CPPCC National Committee member Zhu Gaofeng, deputy president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
In his view, the Chinese economy, now halfway through its industrialization, will be mainly driven by the manufacturing sector in a quite long time to come.
His view finds support in the fact that industrial added value now accounts for over 40 percent of the nation's gross domestic product (GDP), and usually outpaces the GDP growth by two or three percentage points.
Another CPPCC member, economist Li Jingwen, expressed concern over the status quo in the equipment-manufacturing sector.
He warned that the international competitiveness of China's manufacturing sector has declined sharply over recent years.
He noted that 68 percent of the equipment needed for China's fixed asset investment was imported, 95 percent of the market shares for wireless phones were taken by foreign companies, and most of the high-precision numerically controlled machine tools were imported. Chinese manufacturers have lost two thirds of the domestic market for equipment to foreign firms, he said.
Li said China should seize the chance of global re-division of work to upgrade its manufacturing industry.
A third CPPCC member Xu Xingchu said in developing the manufacturing sector, China should embrace technical innovations, encourage major enterprises to set up their own research and development centers, and promote cooperation between research and industry departments.
With policy and financial support from the government, China may build itself into a world-class manufacturing center in 10 to 15 years, he said.
(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2002)