Xinhua Headlines: China Revs Up Developing Tech-Savvy Industries for Smarter Future

A researcher conducts pre-launch preparation for a satellite at Chang Guang Satellite Technology in Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin Province, May 22, 2023. (Xinhua)

BEIJING/CHANGCHUN/HEFEI, March 1 (Xinhua) -- In the smart factory of Chang Guang Satellite Technology, robotic platforms are working together efficiently and smoothly to manufacture polished optical lenses. Meanwhile, the company's researchers are busy testing the newest satellite optical cameras in their debugging workshop.

Located in Changchun, the capital city of Jilin Province, the company is the first unicorn enterprise founded in the old industrial base of northeast China. "On the first day after the Spring Festival holiday, our workers immediately devoted themselves to intense work as the satellite research and development (R&D) tasks wait for no one," said Jia Hongguang, secretary of the company's Party committee.

The company specializes in the R&D, production, and operation of remote sensing satellites. Incubated by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the tech-savvy company has over 800 employees. Over 88 percent of them hold a master's degree or above, which provides a rich talent pool for the company's scientific research.

In 2023, 48 Jilin-1 satellites developed and produced by the company were successfully launched. To date, the company has sent 108 remote sensing satellites into orbit, building the world's largest sub-meter-level commercial remote sensing satellite network. In June 2023, 41 of the firm's satellites were sent up into the sky all at once, setting a new record for the most satellites launched at one time in China.

In late January this year, China released a guideline for the innovative development of "future industries." The document highlighted six key fields including future-oriented manufacturing, information, materials, energy, space and health.

The future industries refer to those emerging industries integrated with the cutting-edge technologies, which are expected to lead the overall economic development, generate new market demands and application scenarios, and grow into sectors worth hundreds of billions of yuan in scale within the next five to 15 years, according to the authorities.


At the R&D center of CIQTEK, a developer and manufacturer of quantum precision measurement products, the quantum sensing team was testing the quantum diamond atomic force microscope about to come off the assembly line, which can realize ultra-high spatial resolution and quantitatively non-invasive magnetic imaging.

"We want to help realize the transformation and upgrading of more industries with the exploration of quantum precision measurement technologies this year," said Guo Maosen, application engineer of the company.

He Yu, chairman of CIQTEK, said that in 2023, the company received orders exceeding 500 million yuan (about 70.4 million U.S. dollars), doubling its revenue in consecutive years. Meanwhile, the total R&D investment accounted for nearly 30 percent of the company's total revenue.

The company plans to make more breakthroughs in solving "bottleneck" problems including electron microscopes and gas adsorption analyzers, and to have more high-end scientific instruments manufactured domestically. "In the meantime, we will cooperate in depth with various partners to expand the industrial applications and demonstration scenarios of the quantum technology, thus empowering the transformation and development of the manufacturing industry," He added.

Hu Yongjun, a researcher from the State Information Center, noted that such future industries are of great strategic significance in global economic and industrial competition.

The development of future industry has been prioritized by many provinces across China, among which, Beijing is taking the lead. The Chinese capital has proposed to gather more innovation entities with major international influence by 2035.

On Feb. 18, the first day after this year's Spring Festival holiday, Xiaomi's smart factory in Changping District of Beijing began operation. It is a major production hub, boasting 24/7 autonomous operation with most tasks handled by intelligent robots. The new factory stands among China's most advanced mobile factories in terms of intelligent manufacturing and digitization, able to produce 30,000 smartphones daily, said the company.


Yu Maojun, a researcher at the macroeconomic research center of the Anhui Economic Research Institute, said that since the beginning of the year, the Yangtze River Delta region has stepped up efforts to develop innovative and cutting-edge technologies, accelerating the development of future industries including quantum and life sciences, and a number of future industries have been put on the fast track.

Since the beginning of 2024, many Chinese cities including Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, and Hefei in east China have all accelerated fostering future industry pilot zones.

On Jan. 2, the first workday of 2024, a batch of major projects in Anhui Province started construction, among which 253 were related to the top 10 emerging industries such as artificial intelligence and biomedicine. The 253 future industry projects would require a total investment of 247.7 billion yuan.

On Feb. 18, the neighboring Zhejiang Province launched 333 major projects with a total investment of 977 billion yuan, aiming to build future industry pilot zones in fields such as blockchain, third-generation semiconductors, aerospace integration and new materials.

"In the future, I believe that with the completion of these major projects, the momentum of the new productive forces will be unleashed at an accelerated pace, and the power of technological innovation will greatly change people's production methods, lifestyles, and ways of thinking, bringing profound and lasting changes to the economy and society," Yu said.

Yu explained that new productive forces are productivity in which scientific and technological innovation plays a leading role, and meet the requirements of high-quality development.

Future industries are crucial for countries to seize the opportunities brought about by the new round of sci-tech revolution and industrial transformation and have a new field of competition among major countries, observers said. The United States, the European Union and Japan have all announced initiative related to the development of future industries such as high-performance computing, quantum technology and artificial intelligence.

Many analysts have commented that China's proactive planning for and investment in future industries not only ensures it will keep up with the world or even leads in innovations, but also promotes its high-quality economic development and industrial transformation.

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