Legal Disclaimer

This blog wishes it be known that the opinions presented herein are the sole responsibility of the author, and do not represent the feelings, opinions, ideas, or conclusions of any affiliated organization or group. Additionally, the author has chosen to keep the blog confidential during the Olympic Games 2008, as the reaction of the PRC towards foreign opinion remains ungauged. Thanks for reading.
Beijingfuturesdreams, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

China Trend Analysis II : 11 Categories of Advanced Technology, part I

The U.S. National Board of Science categorizes advanced technologies into 11 distinct fields for organizing scientific inquiry, advancements, and market research. We list and discuss each of these, and examine China’s vested interest in them. China is among the top three importers of U.S. advanced technologies in 5 of these categories, and makes significant purchases in the remaining 6. We will discuss them according to this order.

I. Aerospace

China’s aerospace industry is in the midst of a growth trend, readying to open its AVIC III (Aviation Industry of China) upon the success of the AVIC I and II installments. These installments are the direct result of the restructuring of the government owned enterprises that made up China’s aerospace design and manufacturing pre-1999. The model driving China’s organizational change focuses on development for defense applications, with advances then being adopted and implemented into commercial products.

Developing a series of aircraft with civilian and military applications, the AVIC installations are working on “homegrown” designs for production and use inside China, and possible sales to other nations. While as high as 50% of the necessary components for their designs are imported, these designs are being produced to meet U.S. Aviation standards, perhaps the highest mark to date.

Many analysts believe that China’s Aerospace Industry is just now starting to reap the benefits of the restructure, and will continue to grow over the coming years. Aiding this growth will be the high levels of interest in Space Technologies including satellite launch, participation in national and international manned-space ventures, and defense and communication systems.
This trend is perhaps the most poignant in our analysis of China’s quickly changing technological capabilities in aerospace. The rapidly advancing state of China’s Space program is manifested in satellite technology, manned and un-manned space missions, cutting edge launch capabilities, and a lunar research group.

China’s increasing inventory of operational satellites ranges from meteorological research, to high resolution imagery, to increasingly accurate global positioning capabilities. China currently has 67 payloads in orbit, with 10 additional satellites to join the skies in 2008. This is up from 9 satellites in orbit as of 2003. Their navigation and tracking system, Beidou, is undergoing refinements to give it GPS like accuracy. They also have deployed a SAR radar system, and plan on launching an 8-satellite strong array in the future.

Their launch capabilities are undergoing major transformations as well. The standing Long March series of rockets is soon to be shelved in lieu of the upcoming (but yet unnamed) launch system consisting of 120-ton and 50-ton engines that use non-toxic nd non-pollutant fuels. These new rockets will help China pursue its lunar mission, to deploy a survey robot to the moons survey. Additionally, these rockets will allow the PRC to participate in the International Space Station, and conduct independent space research. China’s currently has signed treaties of cooperation with 15 nations, and the European Union, pledging peaceful development and fair use claims to space.

China, in some analysts’ minds, has been very public about the commercial and international applications of its booming space industry, while continually downplaying the technologies military use. This has garnered a variety of responses, most of which cast a positive light on the PRC’s continuing space efforts.

II. Advanced materials

Generally regarded as materials that enhance or make possible the use of other advanced technologies, the NSB gives optical fiber cable, semiconductor materials, and videodisks as examples of this category. We must also consider newly developed polymers for aerospace, China’s booming architecture and automotive industries, and rapidly advancing Information Technology market and industry.

The PRC has seen continuing and significant growth in all major advanced materials markets, including non-metal materials (polymers and other advanced chemicals), advanced metals and alloys, and nano-level developed materials. Project 863 is government initiated program focused on the development of all technologies that wil support the industrial and economic strength of China. The development of “indigenous design” advanced materials and manufacturing techniques is one critical component of project 863.

Research done by Richard Applebaum analyzes China’s advances in the nano-sciences fields, many of which have end products or applications in the advanced materials sector. A power point of this research, as prepared for a Forbes live webcast is presented here. Some regard the nano-sciences as the next transitional technology breakthrough, whose impact can be far reaching and is currently unpredictable.

Further information available:
Ministry of Science and Technology (PRC)

III. Electronics

China’s current Five-Year plan is highly focused on advancing the state of all sciences and technologies, and especially those that would bolster China’s industrial production capacity. The PRC is one of the world’s largest investors in R&D, as it continues to push its agenda of “informatization” to remain competitive in the global production of electronics. This output includes throngs of end-user products, and a growing number of goods for industrial or advanced IT applications.

As China continues to be one of the world’s largest suppliers of electronic hardware, and consuming a majority of U.S. electronic exports, it seems the state of the art of electronic production is settling in China. This trend continues to have an impact on the social fabric of China, as well as setting the standards for China’s vision of success. From integrated circuits to capacitors, “electronics” continue to be in high demand for the PRC.

Again, by developing advanced manufacturing process, China is pushing to develop its own designs of electronic exports necessary in the development of end user products. This push comes in concert with China’s efforts to become a more sustainable and eco friendly producer—a challenge to be discussed later.

IV. Information and Communications Technologies

Again we reiterate the push of China towards “informatization” in its military, industry, and greater social fabric. As each five-year plan unfurls within the PRC, China’s momentum becomes more evident. A new strategy or course of development denotes a massive shift in government financial support, human resources, and capital from other sources.

Therefore, China’s growth as an importer of ICT technologies, and its continued advance as an innovation center for said technologies comes as no surprise in combination with China’s current development model. However, China currently supplies over 40% of all U.S. imports in this same field, and has grown steadily in the manufacture of goods in this category.

The PRC now has more active online internet users than any other nation with approximately 210 million or more. This puts China’s Online community above all but 4 of the world’s nations in total population, with an amazing growth rate. Over the past 5 years China’s internet population has grown from approximately 35 million users—an increase of about 700%. Of increasing interest is the nearly 60 million subscribers to wireless internet connectivity through a mobile provider.

V. Software

Computer Software is an increasingly important product to all high-tech nations and societies, and china again has continued to surge in its production and export in this category. As of the end of June 2008, PRC software companies have become the fourth largest producer of software in the world, and a majority of these companies are “homegrown.”

In management software, an essential to the growing market economy of China, almost 60 of the top 100 computer software firms are Chinese owned and operated. The biggest sales for these homegrown companies happen within China, but a growing market does exist for exported software.

As in other technology and industry sectors, China’s growing stake in the future developments of these technologies allows the engineers, and policy makers of the PRC to hold more sway in international meetings aimed at standardization. This is made poignant by the Chinese launch of many standards, codecs, and formats that are homegrown and developed.

With the rising popularity of wireless and mobile communications, and its heavy usage in Asia, this standards will play an increasingly important role in the future directions that global software companies must take. As mobile applications of technology become more prevalent and diverse in function, the nations building the most popular software will have an increasing sphere of influence in the direction setting of the technologies standards for future developers.

No comments: