China's plans for global robotics dominance gather pace

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    To dominate the industrial robotics market of the future

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Despite the country’s current trade showdown with the US, China looks on course to dominate the industrial robotics market of the future.


When the White House unveiled its list of proposed tariffs on Chinese goods in early April, it was no surprise to see robots on the list of goods that may soon be subject to 25 percent US import charges.


After all, in its efforts to force China to change its intellectual property practices, the US government has made no secret that it has that country’s Made in China 2025 strategy squarely in its crosshairs.


First announced in 2015, this strategy outlines Beijing’s aspirations for the world’s most populous nation to dominate the global economy of the future, in areas such as electric vehicles, satellites – and industrial robots. It’s no surprise then, that in the current trade showdown between the two nations, the US is aiming to hit Beijing where it hurts, by undermining those ambitions.


In the area of industrial robots, in particular, China is making impressive progress. Conditions are ideal in that country for building a thriving robotics industry, serving both the domestic and overseas market.


First, the government doesn’t stint on offering generous tax breaks and subsidies to robotics startups. Second, these companies have the potential to scale up quickly, because the domestic market is so large and its economy so heavily industrialised, but thus far only patchily automated. Third, Chinese manufacturers are under pressure to automate, from the government and in order to compete with other low-cost manufacturing markets, which is creating huge demand for industrial robots to boost efficiencies and lower costs.