What is China: Innovation key to stronger economy in China

China 24

What is China: Innovation key to stronger economy in China

China says innovation is the key to driving a stronger economy and transformation is taking time.

In the first episode of our CGTN special series “What is China?”  CGTN’s Han Bin and Nathan King report.

What is China: Innovation key to stronger economy in China

China says innovation is the key to driving a stronger economy and transformation is taking time. In the first episode of our CGTN special series "What is China?" CGTN’s Han Bin and Nathan King report.

It is the world’s first graphene medical detector, for checking the pulse and blood pressure. And the pulse isn’t just the heart rate, it’s the 26 diagnostic categories in traditional Chinese medicine.

The device is the brainchild of Professor Peng Peng. His company has developed various graphene products, including heating films and smartphone touch screens.

We go to where Peng Peng started his dream in 2011. His listed company and combines research and production.

Sales in 2016 topped 30 million yuan ($4 million). And they’re expecting to at least triple that in 2017.

Graphene is already a big industry in China. There are some 500 companies creating related products. Competitiveness is driving innovation.

“Because of its excellent conductivity and flexibility, graphene is considered an alternative product for the next generation of electronic materials. This material is generally considered the developing trend. Flexible electronic technology can change our lives. For example, cell phones can be rolled up,” Peng Peng said.

Peng Peng said graphene production is very profitable. He predicts the rapid development will catapult the material to a new level.

Graphene makes a copper alloy stronger than titanium. It makes cell phone touchscreens more sensitive. And its anti-corrosion properties help batteries last longer.

Graphene was first isolated in 2004, and China invested quickly to commercialize it. It’s now a world leader in developing and taking a big slice of the market.

Peng Peng said for the new material industry can upgrade traditional industries. The company’s touchscreen was introduced two years ago, and demand has been huge.

China has about 40 percent of the world’s graphene patents. The government has urged the sector to become a leading industry, given the increasing uses of the material in industrial and consumer products. But experts say it will take some time before graphene makes a big impact on society, and innovation is the key.

One of the persons pushing the industrialization of graphene is Zhang Zhaohui. His institute focuses on product development. Zhang hopes their success can help change “Made in China” to “Created by China”.

Currently, small and medium-sized enterprises dominate the industry.  Zhang Zhaohui said more government investment is needed. He said if we come back to next year, we’ll see even more products in the showroom.

China’s economy used to be driven by low growth products and cheap labor. But this formula no longer works for a country aiming to become modern and strong. Graphene is one of the success stories in the government’s strategy on innovation. The importance is that this model lets us see the hope for China’s future.

Innovation comes in all sizes -Graphene is one of the thinnest innovations but high-speed rail perhaps the biggest – first introduced to Asia by Japan with its bullet train, now China is leading in terms of its network here but equally looking across Asia.

It’s an engineering and technological marvel – reaching top speeds of 350 kilometers (217 miles) an hour. This journey of over 100 kilometers (62 miles) takes less than 30 minutes.

The short time keeps Train Captain Tang Wenyan busy and the train is full. They get booked up quickly, as prices are reasonable and journey times often less than half those on regular trains.

The Guangzhou to Shenzhen route is one of the busiest lines connecting two mega cities in Southern China– passengers hurry to board, everyone known these high-speed trains always leave right on time.

Even though China’s high-speed trains are only about a decade old, most of the high-speed railway journeys around the world actually now happen in China. They have 20,000 kilometers (12,427 miles) of track and it is something that China is exporting to the world.

Competing against rail rival Japan and Western manufacturers like Germany and France, China is aiming to use high-speed rail to help link North, South, East and Central Asia as part of its ambitious Belt and Road initiative. Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand are all slated to receive Chinese high-speed rail.

While there is a well-reported infrastructure deficit across Asia, there are questions on whether high-speed rail should be a priority. Competitors also claim that high-speed rail can be used as a tool of diplomacy by Beijing.

But in Shenzhen, it’s hard to resist the pull of a 21st Century rail network that gets people where they need to go faster, than ever before.

Think of the trips you have made in the U.S. and how much slower the trips are even between major cities like New York and Washington. High-speed rail is one innovation that the No. 2 economy in the world is doing better at than the No. 1

The Chinese government hopes innovation will drive the country’s economy beyond the New Normal. But this policy is more like a blue print now. The growth model transformation is a challenge the leadership is facing, to enable China to continue its growth, and Chinese enjoy better lives.

Max Wolff talks about the future of China’s innovation and patents

For more about the future of China’s innovation and patents, CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke to Max Wolff, market strategist at 55 Capital.