China's industrial robot market boasts enormous potential and needs more government support to ensure rapid and reasonable growth, a national lawmaker said. [Special coverage]
"There is still huge room for improvement in the sector," said Niu Nutao, a national lawmaker and an official in charge of information sector in east China's Anhui Province, citing the country's low robot-to-worker ratio.
The manufacturing industry currently sees 30 robots for every 10,000 workers, only half of the world average and a tenth of that in Japan, Niu said.
China's industrial robot sector has boomed over the past decade, narrowing the gap with other countries. Robot sales in the Chinese market in 2015 jumped 36.6 percent over that in the previous year.
Facing labor drain and rising salaries, Chinese factories are seeking solutions from robots as the country is managing a shift from thin-profit labor-intensive processing to high-tech manufacturing with high added value.
A precision mold processing plant in Dongguan, one of the biggest production cities, has replaced nearly 2,000 workers with 1,000 robotic arms.
More factories are following suit. The number of robots in operation in China accounted for 9 percent of the world's total, data showed.
However, challenges remain for the country's robot drive.
"China has yet to see the wide use of robots and the sector is hindered by a shortage of talents and industry leaders that can face global rivals, such as ABB and Kuka," Niu said, adding the Chinese market is still dominated by overseas products as homegrown companies have not mastered core technologies.
Niu advised policymakers to include the robot sector into the national strategy. "The government should make more efforts to support R&D, nurture skilled technicians, foster leading enterprises and formulate guidelines to prevent overcapacity."