April 20th, 2018 | Updated on August 12th, 2019
In the recent years China has surprisingly emerged as a robotics powerhouse, surpassing both Japan and South Korea in the industry growth. The Chinese government sets the production goals of 150,000 robots annually by 2020. It is also expected that by that time there will be more than 950,000 robotic units in operation.
You can find numerous informative essays on the topic on this UK essay writing service. And in this article I intend to expound upon the main achievements, challenges, and prospects of the Chinese robotics industry.
Most robotics companies in China have scattered along the Yangtze River Delta, with Shanghai being the most desirable headquarters location. Other popular start-up areas include the Pearl River Delta and Beijing, although they do lag behind in comparison.
SIASUN, UBTECH, and DJI are the Chinese major robotics companies, but there are many more. The generous government policies as well as the overall conducive business climate have spawned many start-ups all over the country.
The Chinese robotics global market share is now above 30%, which is already quite impressive. However, the Chinese government aims to raise it 25% more by 2020. As you have probably noticed, the government plays a crucial role in promoting the industry.
The president Xi Jinping called for a robot revolution in his 2014 speech. This plea manifested itself in the “Made in China 2025” policy, which means to revolutionize not only the robotics industry but also machine learning, AI, pharmaceutical industry, etc.
The government offers generous benefits, low-interest loans, and subsidies to robotics companies located in China.
There is a caveat though. The Chinese officials often favor domestic companies when distributing the subsidies. Of course, this upsets the foreign investors.
Upon the whole, the country’s plans are extremely ambitious. They want to produce 400,000 robots per year by 2030 and establish hegemony over competitor countries such as Japan, South Korea, or the US. Whether they manage to pull it off, only time will tell.
It is true that the industry has been experiencing an astounding boom, but there are still certain issues which stunt it. Let’s take a look at each one.
First of all, the government often decides in favor of the domestic industry when distributing benefits and tenders, even though many Chinese businesses heavily depend on the foreign equipment as well as on export. This is because there is much demand for Chinese robots all over the world.
Secondly, China is too dependent on cooperation with its foreign partners to disregard their rights. It’s not bad when the Chinese law obliges international businesses to work with local manufacturers. It gets bad when foreigners are denied equal competition opportunities in comparison to their Chinese counterparts.
Thirdly, Chinese robotics, though developing quickly, cannot pride itself on the cutting-edge technology. Chinese robots are still pretty simple when contrasted to the German, Japanese, or American ones. If the country wants to move to a whole other level, it needs support from foreign partners.
It should also make necessary amendments to its weak intellectual property laws which prevent innovation and trigger a brain drain. The government should understand that it is not the quantity but the quality that counts. It needs to inspire more people to stay in the country and contribute to its robotics industry.
China is a big country. A long time will pass before it gets the same robot density as Japan or South Korea. The struggle is worth it though as one robot can do the job of 15 human workers.
Still, China is already a menacing competitor. Even the US wants to impose a 25% tariff on its robotics imports. However, there is still a lot to be done and amended.
It is obvious that in the next 50 years many low-skilled workers are bound to lose their jobs. For instance, the Chinese company Foxconn has already replaced more than 50,000 of its workers with robots.
This trend is going to continue. Although robots are expensive to produce, they are quite beneficial in the long-term.
Robots are also expected to take over many new spheres, such as high-tech electronics, due to the progress in machine learning and AI. They will no longer be constrained to heavy industry, since scientists find new ways to improve their software all the time.
In China the onslaught of robots will either make or break the country. It will either disproportionately benefit the rich, leaving the rest of the population in misery, or it will help to solve numerous world problems, boosting the well-being of every citizen. Again, only time will tell.