Made in China, by robots – China business and technology news from April 25, 2017
First labor, now robot labor: The hands that make and move goods in the world’s largest market may soon get a mechanical replacement. Bloomberg reports that “in 2016, China installed 90,000 new robots,” or one-third of the world’s total, and “30 percent more than the year before.” This makes China the world’s fastest-growing robotics market, as giant manufacturers and logistics firms compete and drive demand from around 800 Chinese robotics companies to develop machines that sort, weld, bolt, deliver, or even monitor pollution. If China succeeds in upgrading its manufacturing economy, which is currently still relatively labor-dependent compared with advanced manufacturing economies such as those of Germany or South Korea, it “may be able to stanch the flow of factories moving overseas.”
In some ways, the industry is still in its early stages of development. One engineer at Tsinghua University indicated that “some startups buy key components from Siemens or Fanuc, put them in a robot shell with an arm, and then slap on a Chinese brand name.” Still, the large players in the industry are not just messing around. Online retailer JD.com, for example, is rushing to automate its warehouses, and expects drones, driverless vehicles, and other specialized robots to deliver its packages in the not-too-distant future. It has already conducted experimental deliveries with drones in remote locations and robots on college campuses, and expects to quickly develop the technology.
Amid scramble for influence, China scoops up Chevron’s gas fields in Bangladesh / Foreign Policy
China’s first major energy deal in Bangladesh will put it in competition with India and Japan.
Netflix has just found a back door into China / Tech in Asia
A licensing deal with iQiyi will make some Netflix original shows available to Chinese audiences, though each show will need individual approval from censors, meaning that the slightly open ”back door” can be slammed shut at any time.
Hyundai is caught in a perfect storm in China / Bloomberg
“They have the wrong positioning in China, were late to sell new cars and SUVs, and had weak brand loyalty.”
- China’s hidden debt stirs investor angst as defaults rise / Bloomberg