By 2025, China wants to have doubled the density of manufacturing robots.
China’s efforts to get its robotics industry in order have been great in recent years. According to the country’s National Bureau of Statistics, from 2016 to 2020, the output of industrial robots in China increased rapidly from 72,000 sets to 212,000 sets, with an average annual growth rate of 31%. Mid 2020 China accounted for more than one-third of the industrial robots sold worldwide.
The pandemic of 2020-2021 did not slow down the robotics industry, but instead spurred it, since Chinese tech giants worked on the modernization and digitalization of production to combat the pandemic. To give some examples: Shenzhen-based startup Pudu Technology has come up with the home delivery of medicines and meals to reduce cross-infection rates, and Tencent now features health code ratings to track down positive cases and prevent cross-infection.
The Chinese government is ambitious in terms of the further development of its robotics sector. It aims to become the main hub of this global industry. The ambitious 14th Five-Year Plan for the Robotics Industry, issued in December 2021, covers the period 2021-2025, but the planning reaches further. China’s ambitions in the field of robotics are part of the nation’s broader push to cope with a graying population and leverage cutting-edge technologies to advance industrial upgrades.
By 2025, China wants to be a key source of global robotics innovation, the gathering place of high-end manufacturing and the new hub for integrated application. In the coming 5 years the average annual growth rate of operating income of the robotics industry in China is set to exceed 20%. In addition, the Five-Year Plan expresses the need to form a group of leading enterprises with international competitiveness, and a large number of specialized and innovative ‘little giants’ (小巨人 xiǎo jùrén) with a strong innovative ability and potential to grow. By 2025, China wants to have doubled the density of manufacturing robots. On top of that, China wants to realize technological breakthroughs, foundational improvements, supply optimization, application expansion and ecological creation.
The Plan foresees the application of robotics not only in industry, but also in the social field. It proposes that “by 2035, the comprehensive strength of [China’s] robot industry will reach the international leadership level, and robots will become an important part of economic development, people’s lives and social governance.”