Reference to industrial plan that US loves to hate deleted

China deleted any reference to the industrial blueprint that has become a flash point in relations with the U.S. from this year’s key economic planning documents, but the ambition to transform itself into an advanced manufacturing economy is still there between the lines.

There was no mention of the “Made in China 2025,” blueprint to become a globally competitive industrial power in the two main reports from Premier Li Keqiang and the National Development and Reform Commission released yesterday. The strategy was featured prominently in the 2018 versions of both.

Yet the underlying message – that China will upgrade crucial, technology-intensive industries – hasn’t weakened. The government work report said the nation will step up research and development into big data and artificial intelligence, as well as fostering emerging industries such as next-generation information technology, high-end equipment, bio-medicine, new energy automobiles and new materials – almost a photocopy of the sectors laid down in the plan.

“We will organize a new round of technology transformation and upgrading projects, and harness new technologies like the Internet, big data, and AI,” the NDRC said in the report. The nation will “move quickly” to launch commercial 5G, expand a new version of Internet protocols, and promote new infrastructure in AI, industrial Internet, and the ‘Internet of Things.’

Foreign companies and governments have expressed fears that they won’t be able to compete in advanced manufacturing against Chinese rivals if they are backed by state support and subsidies.

The omission was due to the word limit of the work report, according to Huang Shouhong, director of the state council research office. He led the drafting of the Premier’s report and spoke at a briefing yesterday. Bloomberg

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