China's old industrial base makes headway on revitalization
* Northeast China, an old industrial base, is endeavoring to promote innovation-based development while adopting a global vision for reinvigorating the economy.
* So far, a total of 127 foreign-funded companies have entered the China-Germany Equipment Manufacturing Industrial Park of Shenyang, the beating heart of the revived regional economy and the region's manufacturing industry.
* In Jilin Province, one of the country's breadbasket provinces and home to many important manufacturing companies, the satellite information industry is taking off.
SHENYANG -- Northeast China, once the nation's heavy-industry heartland, is upbeat about the future thanks to its revitalization drive based on innovation and opening up.
The resource-rich region has been long afflicted by industrial overcapacity, shrinking resources and the outflow of talent. In an effort to foster new growth engines, the region is endeavoring to promote innovation-based development while adopting a global vision for reinvigorating the economy.
"Innovation and opening up are crucial for northeast China to take full advantage of its traditional industries and improve the quality of growth," said Zhang Wanqiang, an economist with the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.
Vehicles under production are transferred through the office area at the Tiexi Plant of BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. in Shenyang, northeast China's Liaoning Province, Feb. 16, 2022. [Xinhua/Yang Qing]
In the BMW Tiexi factory, in the city of Shenyang, Liaoning Province, gigantic yet nimble mechanical arms twist and turn, lifting and welding auto parts, together with other robotic machinery, offering a glimpse of an automated future for the automobile industry.
Every 55 seconds, a brand-new BMW sedan rolls off the automatic assembly line, contributing to the German carmaker's delivery of 592,873 BMW and MINI vehicles to Chinese customers in the first three quarters of this year.
The region took on a pioneering role in the development of the country's automobile industry and built a reputation as an auto industrial center stretching over several decades. Now, more international carmakers are betting their future on northeast China and its skilled workforce, including the iconic German brands of BMW and Volkswagen.
"We show again we are at home in China. We at BMW have full confidence in the Chinese market," said Franz Decker, president and CEO of BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd., at a signing ceremony in November for a 10-billion-yuan (about 1.4 billion U.S. dollars) battery production project in Shenyang.
The German auto behemoth has taken a crucial step in its e-mobility strategy in China, and numerous international companies are also eyeing the potential of the northeastern China.
So far, a total of 127 foreign-funded companies have entered the China-Germany Equipment Manufacturing Industrial Park of Shenyang, the beating heart of the revived regional economy and the region's manufacturing industry.
A worker checks a vehicle at the assembly line of FAW-Volkswagen in Changchun, northeast China's Jilin Province, May 16, 2022. [Xinhua]
According to Zhao Ruyu, vice president of the Regional Science Association of China, expanded openness in the area has also enabled local Chinese enterprises to gain more global perspective and experience, which can further encourage the region to promote economic growth in a more open and innovative manner.
To shed the image of an old-fashioned heavy-industry base, the "rust-belt" region has been seeking to upgrade its industries by fostering innovation.
In Jilin Province, one of the country's breadbasket provinces and home to many important manufacturing companies, the satellite information industry is taking off.
Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd., China's first commercial remote-sensing satellite firm, pioneered the application of commercial satellites in China in 2015 by developing the Jilin-1 satellite. The company said a total of 83 Jilin-1 satellites have been delivered into orbit so far, to promote remote-sensing data and services for sectors such as agriculture, forestry, and environmental monitoring.
"Innovation is at the heart of the success of the company," said Jia Hongguang, the company's deputy general manager. Jia said that thanks to the local government's talent program, the company has employed more than 600 people, of whom 85 percent have a master's degree or higher.
In the city of Changchun, capital of Jilin, 12 universities and research institutes have provided some impressive research output, with more than 17,000 projects in the past decade. Of these, 30 projects have won national science and technology awards.
Technicians of the Jilin-1 Gaofen 03 satellites pose for a photo at a workshop of Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd. in northeast China's Jilin Province, Aug. 3, 2022. [Xinhua/Xu Chang]
Boasting many national scientific research institutes, universities of good repute and company-operated research and development (R&D) centers, northeast China is driving the rapid pace of change in innovation, according to Meng Jimin, a researcher with the China Academy of Northeast Revitalization.
Meanwhile, the applied scientific research findings have supported the development of industrial clusters for robotics, integrated circuit equipment, satellite manufacturing and application software, playing a leading role in the revitalization of the northeastern region, Meng said.
"Northeast China is vital to China's industrial and agricultural development, as well as ecological preservation," said Zhang Wanqiang.
With the central government's strong support for opening up and innovation, the region will embrace new development opportunities, said Zhang.
Video reporters: Gao Ming, Zhang Qiru, Si Xiaoshuai, Shao Meiqi, Jin Jinxiu, Xu Chang; Video editors: Zhang Zhihuan, Luo Hui, Zhang Yuhong, Liu Yutian, Zhou Sa'ang, Lin Lin, Liu Ruoshi