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China Launches Ambitious Plan to Upgrade Domestic Equipment and Boost Recycling

China is launching a large-scale initiative to promote equipment upgrades as well as the recycling of consumer goods. The government’s goal is that, by 2027, investment in 7 key industrial sectors should increase by over 25% compared with 2023 levels. The government milestones include doubling the recycling of scrapped vehicles as well as a 30% increase in recycling of used home appliances.

Officials say this push is about transitioning from foreign to domestic products.

The initiative, titled “Action Plan to Promote Large-Scale Equipment Renewal and Consumer Goods Replacement” (“推动大规模设备更新和消费品以旧换新行动方案”), was announced by the Information Office of China’s State Council on April 11th. The government will provide funding support for the initiative, but the exact amount is unclear.

China currently faces overcapacity issues, with exports accounting for much of the country’s economic growth. Shifting to domestic consumption through equipment upgrades and recycling is a potential path to addressing these issues.

The quality of Chinese-made products remains a challenge to adoption. Many Chinese companies prefer to use more expensive imported equipment; domestic products often require more maintenance and repairs, raising production costs. Some industries such as smart tech and precision machinery are still heavily reliant on foreign technology.

Currently, China has over 39 trillion RMB in fixed assets, with 28 trillion RMB comprising industrial equipment. The new action plan aims to spur economic growth through massive replacement of such fixed assets, promoting self-sufficiency and reducing reliance on foreign goods. Feasibility and efficacy of this approach remain to be seen.

Source: Radio Free Asia, April 12, 2024