Info infrastructure to shine spotlight on industrial economy in future
China will seek to quicken the launch of a new batch of information infrastructure projects in order to spur investment and consumption, officials and experts said on Tuesday.
The country's larger goal is to keep its sprawling industrial economy running within a reasonable range, they said.
The infrastructure push follows the latest data showing China's industrial output, an important economic indicator, expanded 3.4 percent year-on-year in the first half of this year despite challenges and uncertainties from the COVID-19 pandemic and a more complicated international environment.
With manufacturing accounting for a large part of GDP, the industrial economy will continue to be a cornerstone of the world's second-largest economy, which will also help safeguard the stability of global industrial and supply chains, experts said.
Tian Yulong, spokesman and chief engineer of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said efforts should be made to start a string of important projects in 5G, gigabit optical networks, the industrial internet and other new information infrastructure as soon as possible, so as to expand investment and trigger consumption.
In the first half, fixed asset investment in telecommunications reached 189.4 billion yuan ($28.1 billion), up 24.6 percent year-on-year. As of June, China built more than 1.85 million 5G base stations and the number of 5G mobile subscribers reached 455 million, data from the ministry showed.
"We will ratchet up efforts to encourage consumption of new energy vehicles and green construction materials in rural areas," Tian said.
In June, output of the automobile industry increased by 16.2 percent year-on-year, thanks to the efforts to help carmakers quickly resume production after the pandemic was brought under better control.
Sales of new automobiles soared nearly 24 percent year-on-year to 2.5 million units in June, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. Such strong momentum has accelerated the entire industrial growth.
Another bright spot is that in the second quarter, the added-value by the manufacturing industry accounted for 28.8 percent of GDP, 1.4 percentage points higher than the number in 2021. This is a very positive signal, Tian said.
Meanwhile, manufacturing investment increased by 7.4 percent in the second quarter, which was 3.2 percentage points higher than the growth rate of fixed asset investment.
"Effective manufacturing investment will not only play an important role in stabilizing growth at present, but also help optimize the future industrial structure and cultivate new drivers for economic development," said Liu Wenqiang, deputy head of the China Center for Information Industry Development Consultancy, a Beijing-based consultancy.
The data reflect the important role industrial economy plays in anchoring China's overall economic growth, Liu said. "China has a complete industrial system. As the nation is transitioning from a manufacturing powerhouse to a smart-manufacturing center, it will also help safeguard the stability of global industrial and supply chains."
Jiang Yuan, deputy director of the industrial statistics department of the National Bureau of Statistics, said industrial production quickly resumed in May and June, with a raft of targeted policies.
But the external environment remains challenging, the market demand is weak and the utilization rate of industrial capacity remains low. Hard work is needed to ensure stable industrial operations, Jiang said.