Observing New Industrial Policies from the Narrative of Chinese-style Modernization

Release Date : 2024-06-21

(Huang Ciou-long, Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Public Security, Central Police University)

In his report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on October 16, 2022, Xi Jinping proposed that by 2035, an overall development target should be “the basic realization of new-type industrialization, informatization, urbanization, and agricultural modernization.” While this target is specifically related to Xi’s narrative of new-type industrialization since the 18th CPC National Congress, it is worth noting that this policy direction also serves as the material and technical basis to realize the Chinese-style modernization stated in the 20th National Congress. Particularly, on May 29 this year, Jin Zhuanglong, Minister of the Ministry of Information Technology, published a signed article on “Promoting New-type Industrialization to Construct a Strong Material and Technical Basis for Chinese-style Modernization” in Study Times, the official newspaper of the Central Party School. Based on this, the long-delayed third plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Committee, which is to be held this July, will definitely clarify the policy direction of new-type industrialization under the guidance of the political line of Chinese-style modernization.

The new-type industrialization narrative in the report of the 20th CPC National Congress focuses on the real economy by “building a modernized industrial system,” claiming that it “will promote a new-type industrialization, and accelerate the construction of a manufacturing power, a quality power, an aerospace power, a transportation power, a network power, and a digital China.” In essence, this policy direction projects a Chinese-style modernization narrative that not only “accelerate the construction of a Chinese discourse and narrative system,” but also with the intention of “strengthening the power and influence of Chinese civilization,” highlighting the fact that Chinese-style modernization is different and superior to the Western model. It also satirizes Western capitalism, which has over-expanded the virtual economy and led to the uncontrolled and barbaric growth of derivative capital, resulting in speculative behavior and high-risk bubbles in the economy. On the other hand, it highlights the fact that the new-type industrialization is an artificial intelligence manufacturing system that “integrates the virtual and the practical, and is knowledge-driven, dynamically optimized, safe and highly efficient.” Specific policy measures include: promoting the development of high-end, intelligent and green manufacturing industries; consolidating the leading position of advantageous industries, accelerating the completion of shortest boards in areas related to security development, and enhancing the ability to guarantee the supply of strategic resources; promoting the development of integrated clusters of strategic new industries, and building a number of new engines of growth, such as the new-generation information technology, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, new energy, new materials, high-end equipment, and green and environmental protection. It will also promote the deep integration of modern service industries with advanced manufacturing industries and modern agriculture, accelerate the development of the Internet of Things, promote the deep integration of the digital economy and the real economy, create internationally competitive digital industry clusters, and build a modernized infrastructure system.

Jin Zhuanglong’s article adopts a three-part progressive inference: a profound understanding of the significance and contemporary requirements of promoting new-type industrialization; an accurate grasp of the new situation; and going all out in the implementation of the key tasks:

The first paragraph refers to the construction of a strong material and technical basis for Chinese-style modernization, which requires not only accelerating new-type industrialization and the building of a manufacturing power, but also implementing the new development concept and accelerating the development of new-quality productivity, which corresponds to the policy of integrating the virtual and practical aspects of the Chinese-style modernized industrial system;

In the second paragraph, a political judgment is to be made on the complicated and severe internal and external situations facing the new-type industrialization: the first is “the new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation has profoundly changed the global industrial development and division of labor pattern”; and the second is “the increasingly fierce competition and game among major powers has profoundly changed the external environment of China’s development.” In recent years, the US has adjusted its strategy toward China, engaged in “small yard, high fence” and “decoupling and disruption of industrial and supply chains,” and has continued to intensify its suppression of China’s technological progress and industrial upgrading;

Third, “China’s industry has entered a critical period of overcoming the obstacles, becoming stronger, and accelerating its progress toward the middle and high ends of the global value chain. China has become a major manufacturing power, but the problems of being “big but not strong” with unbalanced and inadequate development is still prominent with some key core technologies being controlled by others, and weakness in the supply of high-quality products and industrial infrastructure capacity. Small and medium-sized enterprises particularly are still more difficult to produce and operate:

In the final paragraph, in addition to fully supporting stable growth of the industrial economy, there are efforts to enhance the supply chain resilience and security level of the industrial chain, and comprehensively enhance the scientific and technological innovation capacity of the industry.  At the same time, it also clearly points to the direction of optimizing upgrading of the industrial structure that includes: systematically promote the 5G, intelligent Internet automobile, new energy, new materials, high-end equipment, and other areas of technological innovation, the development of large-scale and the application of the construction of scenarios, and to create landmark products; promoting artificial intelligence, humanoid robot, meta-universe, next-generation Internet, 6G, quantum information, bio-manufacturing, deep-sea and space development, and other cutting-edge technology research and development and application promotion.

It is worth noting that the theory of new-type industrialization as a political judgment, the key still lies in the driving of its advanced manufacturing policy. From there, the final paragraph gives direction in promoting artificial intelligence to empower new industrialization, as well as comprehensively promote the green development of industry, and its specific planning measures such as: promoting digital industrialization, upgrading the development standards of integrated circuits, key software, accelerating the integration and innovation of 5G, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, big data, virtual reality (virtual realm), etc.; the implementation of the digital transformation of the manufacturing industry, and the development of small and medium-sized enterprise digital transformation city pilot; accelerating the intelligent upgrading of key industries, the development of digital It will accelerate the smart upgrading of key industries, develop smart products, create innovative new ecologies, and empower new industrialization at a high level. It will also build new infrastructures, such as 5G, data centers, and arithmetic power, ahead of schedule. Coordinate the promotion of iron and steel, non-ferrous metals, building materials, petrochemicals and chemicals and other key industries to reach carbon peaks; the construction of green manufacturing and service system. Of course, the three-stage progressive theory of new industrialization serves the overall goal of development declared by the 20th National Congress. In fact, the optimization of the industrial structure and specific planning measures also correspond to what Premier Li Qiang of the Communist Party of China (CPC) mentioned in the government work report of the National People’s Congress (NPC) on March 5 this year, namely, “to vigorously promote a modernized industrial system and accelerate the promotion of new industrialization”. Among them, “promoting the transformation of traditional industries into high-end, intelligent and green industries” has attracted the attention of major Western countries, as it is intended to “create more ‘Made in China’ brands with international influence”. In particular, as mentioned in Li Qiang’s report, “exports of electric vehicles, lithium batteries, and photovoltaic products, the ‘New Three’ products, have increased by nearly 30%” (compared to last year, exports exceeded the RMB trillion mark for the first time, and exports of electric vehicles amounted to 5,221,000 units, accounting for 60% of the world’s sales volume). As a result, it has aroused concerns in Europe and the United States about overcapacity of the “New Three”, low-priced exports, disruption of the global supply chain, and obstruction of the development of local industries. Nowadays, the international community has been conducting unfair trade and anti-dumping investigations against China, and even attributing them to the subsidization of the “New Three” by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as well as the phenomenon of local protectionism.

In summary, while new-type industrialization is the theoretical basis of political judgment, the key to its implementation lies in the driving of the policy of advanced manufacturing industries to form a mutually reinforcing cycle with the traditional industries (high-end, intelligent, and green transformation), so as to give full play to the international influence of the “New Three.” Even if this is a mockery of the Western capitalist mode of production by the narrative of Chinese modernization, the phenomenon of local protectionist market fragmentation has always existed in China, with local governments restricting the entry of foreign enterprises through competitive thresholds. As a result, excessive competition and forced manufacturing have led to a situation where the overall productivity is big but not strong, fast but not good, and where the key technologies are restricted by others, or even caught at the low end of the global supply chain. A more serious problem is that the “New Three” still have to rely on official subsidies and adopt a low price strategy, which relatively restricts the innovative power to improve quality and competitiveness. In this way, new-type industrialization may still be a long way to go for the CPC.

Translated to English by Chen Cheng-Yi