By Siah Hwee Ang*
Made in China 2025 has been quietly in motion for the past two years.
The assumption that it is just about China and has little to do with the rest of the world means that it hasn’t really appeared on our radar.
But the initiative is growing in prominence, especially now that it is clear Made in China 2025 is indeed going to involve the rest of the world.
This can be attributed partially to the rising role of the One Belt One Road Initiative in the region.
Just like with the One Belt One Road Initiative, Made in China 2025’s targets for specific milestones are yet clear.
We know that if that happens, others will claim that China is doing everything on its own, and seeking to dominate the rest of the world.
So maybe, in this instance, it’s about China trying to dominate in the technology space.
Yet, Made in China 2025 also encourages the same collaborative model that typifies the One Belt One Road Initiative.
But it’s one thing to know that a collaborative model is encouraged, it’s another to know how to join the party.
China is seeking to boost its technology arsenal through collaborative innovation. Through the process, it hopes to generate stronger innovation capability.
This goes beyond encouraging participation in innovative activities in China. At this stage, China is still pursuing a tightening up of its intellectual property regimes.
In particular, it was mentioned that technological collaboration along the routes of One Belt One Road will be encouraged.
Given this additional option, we should see more companies engaging in technological collaboration with Chinese counterparts in the coming years.
Being savvy about collaborating while protecting one’s technological knowledge will be instrumental for such participation.
China is seeking to build strength in quality products and services with Made in China 2025 as a platform to achieve that. This means that beyond innovation, there is always room for foreign participation in introducing quality processes, and upskilling and training for Chinese companies.
With Chinese growth now being steered towards the service sector and service- oriented manufacturing, a lot of opportunities are opening up for service-oriented companies to engage.
While the push for Chinese brands is there, there will be stiff competition over time. The Chinese competitive environment will protect and reward quality products and services even more as more standardized laws and regulations are being developed for this purpose.
Green upgrading in traditional industries is also a key focus.
Fundamentally, this will involve the application of energy-saving and environmental protection technologies, processes and equipment to enable cleaner production. Improving the efficiency of resource recycling also features.
Given the goal of building industrial parks around green and sustainable concepts, companies around the globe, including many New Zealand companies, have much to offer.
Made in China 2025 also involves the upskilling of professional, technical, managerial, and administrative personnel to meet the demands of modern manufacturing.
We should see more connections being built around the movement of talented young Chinese professionals and students, and more influx of hired hands into China to assist with the upskilling.
International training bases in China will be established to ensure a seamless supply of talent to cope with advancements in technology. This provides opportunities for highly-skilled professionals to engage in the Chinese market.
In many ways, Made in China 2025 complements the One Belt One Road Initiative. Like the latter, Made in the China 2025 also involves a wide range of investments, industry-level infrastructural development and human mobility.
In contrast to the One Belt One Road Initiative, it is surely more concrete, and many companies from New Zealand and other countries have a better chance to get involved.
Made in China 2025 thus represents a better means through which foreign companies can engage with China. It also raises less concern for the rest of the world about China’s intentions.
*Professor Siah Hwee Ang holds the BNZ Chair in Business in Asia at Victoria University. He writes a regular column here focused on understanding the challenges and opportunities for New Zealand in our trade with Asia. You can contact him here.