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At the end of 2021, China announced its newest five-year plan for robotics, created by the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The overarching goal of the plan is to make China a key source of global robotics innovation.
By 2025, the country plans the average annual growth rate of operating income in the robotics industry will exceed 20%. The five-year plan set out goals to expand depth and breadth of robotic applications to continue to grow the number of robots in the country. It also hopes to promote a stronger and more stable supply-chain and to better standardize the industry.
“China released the second five-year development plan for the robotics industry – following 2016-2020,” Song Xiaogang, executive director and secretary-general of the China Robot Industry Alliance (CRIA), said. “The plan has great guiding significance for promoting the high-quality development of China’s robotics industry during the 14th period. Robots are the key equipment of modern industry. The new 5-year plan leads the digital development and intelligent upgrading in China and also helps to promote the global robot technology progress.”
The International Federation of Robotics (IFR), a non-profit organization with the goal of promoting research, development, use and international cooperation in robotics, gave insight on China’s current place in the world market and the significance of the plan.
“China is by far the biggest robot market in the world regarding annual sales and the operational stock,” Milton Guerry, president of the IFR, said. “IFR’s robot density statistics is a useful indicator of China’s dynamic developments, counting the number of industrial robots per 10,000 employees: China’s robot density in the manufacturing industry currently ranks 9th globally (246 units) – compared to 25th (49 units) just five years ago.”
While China has been rapidly increasing the number of robots at work in the country, many of those robots still come from foreign suppliers, particularly from Japan, South Korea and Europe. In 2020, foreign manufacturers had a combined share of the Chinese robotics market of 73%.
The number of robot installations by domestic companies is rising. In 2020, 45,347 units were installed by domestic companies. However, the number of foreign installations is also rising. In 2020, it grew by 24% to 123,030 units.
Overall, there were 20% more robots installed in China in 2020 than in 2019.