BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- China's high-technology manufacturing has become a pillar industry in the national economy, a signal of the country's progress in transformation its economic structure.
At the ongoing annual session of the national legislature, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Tuesday that China's manufacturing industry has become the largest in the world. With added-value growing at an average annual rate of 13.4 percent during the past five years, high-tech manufacturing has become a leading pillar of the economy.
"We must accelerate the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries, energetically develop new- and high-tech industries, and raise product quality and competitiveness," he said.
The county's strategic emerging industries grew rapidly, including clean energy, energy conservation, environmental protection, next-generation information and communication technology, biomedicines, and high-end equipment manufacturing, said Wen.
"The government work report spoke highly of high-tech manufacturing, which indicates the efforts to improve the quality of industries that have achieved significant progress," said Zhang Yansheng, a researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission.
The 2013 Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, published by Deloitte in November last year, said China is the most competitive manufacturing nation in the world both today and will be five years from now.
The government has laid out a series of measures to promote the development of strategic emerging industries, which opened up room for the upgrading of manufacturing industries.
China's research personnel reached 3.2 million in 2012, the highest across the world, said Wan Gang, who is vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
The value of technical contracts signed last year in China exceeded 600 billion yuan while the aggregate output value of high-tech industries topped 10 trillion yuan, he said.
"The European debt crisis is a danger to companies lacking in innovation ability but an opportunity for us," said Lyu Shiping, president of Liaoning Fu-An Holding Co., Ltd, a machinery company in Anshan, northeast China's Liaoning Province.
Some 60 percent of our orders last year were from overseas, including international companies like General Motors, he said.
The company has invested nearly 100 million yuan (about 15.9 million U.S. dollars) in technical upgrading, he said.
Although China's high-tech manufacturing industry has made great achievements, core technologies in some areas are still controlled by multinational corporations.
Only by improving innovation ability can a company keep an unbeatable position, said Guan Xiyou, chairman of Shenyang Machine Tool Co., Ltd, one of China's largest machine tool manufacturer.
"Perhaps one day, our company will turn into an industrial consultation service provider and no longer produce machine tools anymore," said Guan.
Experts believe the development of the high-tech manufacturing industry will contribute to China's economic structure adjustment and the traditional labor-intensive manufacturing industry will have to conduct transformation and upgrade.
"Manufacturing the products designed by foreign countries will face its limits eventually, whether it is for exports or the domestic market. So manufacturing companies should develop its core competitiveness," said Xiao Xingzhi, a professor with Dongbei University of Finance and Economics in Dalian City.
China's economic growth eased further to a 13-year low of 7.8 percent in 2012 from 9.3 percent in 2011 and 10.3 percent in 2010. The country's GDP stood at 51.9 trillion yuan (about 8.3 trillion U.S. dollars) last year.
The Chinese government announced Tuesday that its GDP growth target will remain around 7.5 percent this year to leave room for economic restructuring.
Due to economic woes in the European Union, the United States and other major trading partners, China saw its foreign trade increase 6.2 percent to 3.87 trillion U.S. dollars in 2012, with a trade surplus of 231.1 billion U.S. dollars.
Last year's foreign trade growth was considerably lower than the 10-percent growth previously targeted by the government.
China has encouraged companies to invest more in innovations to make products more competitive.
The country spent a record 1 trillion yuan on research and development in 2012, of which 74 percent came from companies, said the minister of science and technology on Friday.