China’s Technological Success in Manufacturing

Amitava Banik, BE (E&C), PGDM (Insurance Business)

China has for some time now been holding a position of technological significance in the world. It is a great success story for a country that is still counted among the world’s developing nations. Memories of the time it had been associated with inferior quality products have all but vanished. China has not only been extremely successful in making its products the “new normal” all over the world, but with its investments in cutting edge technologies, infrastructure and skilled manpower, it has started to edge into the hi-tech zone.

It is generally accepted that countries develop in successive stages from an agricultural economy to industrial manufacturing and then to a service-based economy. All major world economies have traversed this path. The transformation in India on the contrary, has been from the agrarian economy to a service economy, virtually jumping over the manufacturing stage. One of the primary reasons put forward by economists for this bypassing of the manufacturing stage in India, is the lack of progress of primary education in the country. While both India and China today compete as major trading economies in the developing world, the fact of the matter is that, today China holds a position of a manufacturing powerhouse in the world and almost all countries in the world including India are influenced by its position.

For example, let us take the situation of the power industry in India. BHEL is the major Indian original equipment manufacturer (OEM) which takes up turn-key thermal power projects in India. However it is facing immense competition from Chinese companies such as Dongfang Electric Corporation and Shanghai Electric Corporation because the latter are able to undertake power projects at comparatively far less costs. Experts in the industry say that the performance of Chinese turbines is also quite good. Chinese companies have the requisite information and expertise to meet the requirements of price, configuration and performance for the buyer. The situation is not unique to the power industry but is also the case in other industries such as steel; Chinese companies have undertaken a number of steel projects in eastern India such as Electrosteel Steels among others.

The growth of manufacturing industry across all sectors from very simple to complex products is a major contributor to the manufacturing success of China. Chinese manufacturing is also influencing the dynamics of trade and industries across the world. Chinese industrial products, electronic products, consumables, spares such as bearings, motors, etc., are flooding Indian markets. These low-priced Chinese products with their satisfactory performance are imported by Indian entrepreneurs – small and big and sold in the Indian market at a premium. Investors in any country look for quick returns on investments and value building, which the Chinese are good in offering and forms the success of Chinese business model.

Another significant Chinese success is in very high-end technology products. A recent development in Chinese technology arena has taken China to a different league. That is the development and commercialization of passenger aircraft C919 developed by Chinese aerospace manufacturer Comac. This development involves technological excellence in almost all the traditional branches of engineering – aeronautics, avionics, mechatronics, metallurgy, electronics, electrical and even chemical engineering among others. This Chinese product is expected to compete with Boeing and Airbus and is a spectacular enough development for it to take pride in.

The technological world is and has all along been progressing at such a rapid pace, that technology holds a key place in the economic, political and social development of nations. China and India being major powers of the world and two very big neighbours do not have any scarcity of possible areas for mutually beneficial collaboration, to create a positive impact on the lives of their huge populations and to be among the world’s technological superpowers. One imagines a world where India, China and developing countries in this part of the world build up a collaborative ecosystem of industrialization with excellence in manufacturing technology that uplifts the life of about 40% of the world’s population.

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