City hopes event will boost its modern service industry
What is thought to be China's first Internet Plus themed exhibition opened in Foshan on Thursday and hopes to speed up the industrial upgrade of the manufacturing base in the Pearl River Delta.
The Internet Plus strategy is a new business model combining the Internet with traditional business sectors. The State Council, China's cabinet, initiated the Internet Plus strategy earlier this year to promote the use of the Internet to upgrade traditional industries and boost the development of emerging ones.
"The expo spreads the idea of Internet Plus, encouraging manufacturers to keep up with the times and make full use of information technologies including the Internet, cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things," said Liu Yuelun, Foshan's Party chief.
"The expo will promote the mutual understanding between Foshan and the outside world and hopefully can stock the city's traditional manufacturing industry with first-class talent, advanced technologies and abundant capital at home and abroad," he added.
Internet Plus is a buzzword in China. While Shanghai concentrates on "Internet Plus Finance" and Shenzhen on "Internet Plus E-commerce", Foshan is prioritizing "Internet Plus Manufacturing", according to Liu.
In May, the city government drew up an action plan to organize an Internet Plus expo and inject the use of the Internet into public services and business sectors including manufacturing, innovation and entrepreneurship, finance, production services, cross-border e-commerce and imports and exports.
Liu said given that Foshan is strong in manufacturing an in-depth combination of the Internet and the manufacturing industry was the foundation for success.
Need for transformation
The total ouput value of Foshan's industrial companies with annual revenues of more than 20 million yuan ($3.14 million) was nearly 1.9 trillion yuan in 2014. The amount was higher than that of Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong, and ranked Foshan fifth in China.
The total output value of companies in the advanced manufacturing sector and the high-tech manufacturing sector saw year-on-year growth of 11.9 percent and 19.0 percent, according to statistics from the city's bureau of economy and information technology.
Foshan has developed a comprehensive industrial system that covers almost all sectors of the manufacturing industry. It is especially strong in traditional businesses including mechanical equipment, nonferrous metals, home appliances, textiles and apparels, ceramic building materials and plastics. These account for three quarters of the total output value of the city's industrial companies, with annual revenues of more than 20 million yuan.
In China, it is believed that every family has at least one made-in-Foshan product. However, it is difficult for Foshan to sustain its advantage in these traditional manufacturing sectors by relying on low costs as it has in the past.
"Foshan's traditional manufacturing industry has an urgent need for innovations in production and sales to develop new core-competitiveness based on a customer-oriented business model," said Zhang Qingyun, deputy director of the city's bureau of economy and information technology.
"The Internet and other information technologies are transforming the mode of production from large-scale, standardized, labor-intensive to small-scale, customized and intelligent," he added.
The Internet Plus upsurge in Foshan has attracted many Internet companies and intelligent equipment providers to the city.
Alibaba Group Holding, China's e-commerce giant, has signed partnerships with the Foshan government to promote products made by about 7,000 local enterprises online.
It also launched a platform for steel producers in Foshan on July 8, making a breakthrough in online trading for bulk commodities. In the eight days following the launch 822 metric tons of steel was traded on the platform, showing huge commercial potential for steel producers to go online.
Alibaba and other Chinese leaders in the Internet industry, including Sina Corp, Baidu Inc, Huawei Technology Co and ZTE Corp, are attending the three-day China (Guangdong) International Internet Plus Exposition in the newly built Sino-European Service Center in the Sino-German Industrial Services Zone to promote their technologies and business plans.
Huawei, one of the world's major telecom equipment providers, brought its latest equipment and designs, including sensor and wireless access points and cloud computing, big data and the Internet of Things application solutions.
"We would like to cooperate with the manufacturers in Foshan to innovate to improve their efficiency and enterprise security management, which will increase the competitiveness of made-in-Foshan products in the global market," Chen Bin, general manager of Huawei's Guangdong office, told Nanfang Daily. He added that his office hopes to set up a joint innovation center in Foshan with a suitable local firm.
The Internet Plus expo is expected to introduce emerging businesses, such as e-commerce, cloud computing and big data, into Foshan to boost the city's modern service industry.
"It will benefit the economic restructuring of Foshan by building the modern service industry into another engine for growth besides the advanced manufacturing industry," said Liu.
The proportion of the tertiary industry in Foshan's economic structure is 36.5 percent, 12.6 percentage points lower than the provincial average.
"Foshan badly needs to speed up the development of the tertiary industry and increase the proportion," Liu said.
The 2015 International Robotics and Intelligent Equipment Industry Conference and Exhibition is also being held in Foshan and will run until Sept 13. About 100 robot producers from home and abroad, including ABB from Switzerland, KUKA from Germany and FANUC and YASKAWA from Japan, are displaying state-of-the-art industrial robot designs to help Foshan's manufacturers upgrade their production lines.
Further discussion on the national "Made in China 2025" plan, which hopes to make China a world manufacturing powerhouse, and "Industry 4.0", a high-tech plan initiated by the German government, is scheduled on Thursday between scientists from the two countries.
Liu said the city is keen to be the permanent host for the Internet Plus expo.
"We plan to make it an annual event and build it into the world's biggest and most influential display platform for applications of the Internet Plus model," he said.