China’s economic momentum: ZGC Forum and Canton Fair highlights

A humanoid robot welcomes guests at the reception desk of Zhongguancun Forum in Beijing on April 27, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Zhongguancun Forum and the Canton Fair act as two windows, collectively revealing the positive momentum of China’s economy, Xinhua reported on Sunday.

The 135th session of the China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair which opened on April 15, gathered merchants from all corners of the world, showcasing the charm of Chinese manufacturing and igniting new vitality in trade.

The 2024 Zhongguancun Forum, which opened on April 25, attracted global tech elites and dreamers, sparking even more technological innovation.

From technology forums to economic and trade fairs, the overflowing popularity of the two events highlights China’s attraction to the world.

The Zhongguancun Forum has attracted over 150 foreign government departments and international organizations from more than 100 countries and regions, as well as prestigious scientific luminaries.

Turning to the Canton Fair, both the scale of the exhibition and the number of exhibitors reached new highs: nearly 30,000 offline exhibitors and over 190,000 overseas buyers from 214 countries and regions attended, representing a growth of over 22 percent compared to the previous session.

Each exchange of business cards and every procurement order conveyed recognition of Chinese manufacturing, anticipation for the Chinese market, and confidence in the Chinese economy, according to an anonymous company executive.

From cutting-edge technologies to Chinese “smart” manufacturing, the development of new quality productive forces implies new opportunities for China.

This year’s Canton Fair exhibitors include over 5,500 national-level high-tech enterprises, champions of manufacturing, and “little giant” firms, or novel and elite small and medium-sized enterprises that specialize in a niche market, up 20 percent from the previous session.

At the Canton Fair, advanced Chinese manufacturing innovations were everywhere, including solar panel cleaning robots, window cleaning robots and pool cleaning robots. One could even see foreign visitors smoothly navigating the exhibition halls on domestically produced electric suitcases they just purchased.

“Innovation and development” is the perpetual theme of the Zhongguancun Forum. This year’s theme of the annual meeting focused on “Innovation: Building a Better World,” aiming to create a “meeting room” that connects global wisdom.

Both events brimmed with “scientific” content, demonstrating China’s active signal in accelerating the cultivation of new quality productive forces and showcasing new opportunities brought about by Chinese innovation and development to the world.

From commodity trading to technology transactions, promoting exchanges, cooperation, and mutual benefit demonstrates China’s determination to openness.

Since its inception in 1957, the Canton Fair, as China’s longest and largest comprehensive international trade fair, has never ceased and has attracted over 9.3 million foreign visitors from 217 countries and regions.

Openness is reflected in numbers. This year’s Canton Fair has hosted over 200 global supply and procurement matchmaking events, attracting over 340 buyers and over 1,000 suppliers to negotiate, with the intended procurement amount reaching approximately $250 million.

Established in 2007, the Zhongguancun Forum is a national-level platform for China’s global technological innovation exchange and cooperation.

At this year’s annual meeting, foreign keynote speakers accounted for over 50 percent; more than 6,000 innovative projects from over 40 countries and regions appeared at the international technology trading conference; and several dialogues on technology cooperation among global governments, institutions, and enterprises were held.

Openness is also reflected in the “personal” aspect. “Old friends” remain, and new friends are increasing. A German businessman told reporters that his family, spanning three generations, has attended the Canton Fair since his grandfather’s time.

An entrepreneur who has attended the Zhongguancun Forum multiple times said that this year’s forum is more international, injecting new vitality into global technological cooperation.

The Zhongguancun Forum and the Canton Fair, which continue to improve, showcase China’s firm commitment and actions to expand high-level opening-up to the world by building a public platform for global exchange and cooperation.

Innovation leads the future, and openness co-creates prosperity. Imagine, that the innovation achievements of Zhongguancun today may become tomorrow’s best-selling products, reaching the world through the platform of the Canton Fair; the broad international perspective of the Canton Fair brings more opportunities for industrial innovation driven by technological innovation.

The Canton Fair and the Zhongguancun Forum are vivid reflections of China’s high-quality economic development and continue to demonstrate China’s stable and positive economic trajectory, injecting more certainty into the world economy.

China’s new quality productive forces provide opportunities to world, making high-tech more affordable

A visitor takes photos of an automated production line on display at the 135th session of the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, on April 16, 2024. Photo: Chi Jingyi/GT

A visitor takes photos of an automated production line on display at the 135th session of the Canton Fair in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province, on April 16, 2024. Photo: Chi Jingyi/GT

A large number of foreign buyers were attracted by an intelligent forklift automated guided vehicle (AGV), stopping to watch and take photos and videos, upon entering the exhibition hall of intelligent automation and intelligent manufacturing at the ongoing 135th session of the Canton Fair.

But the buyers soon saw that industrial robots, automatic production lines and many other types of high-end manufacturing equipment are waiting to be explored. 

These high-tech products are a vivid display of China’s new quality productive forces, which not only empower the country’s economic transformation and high-quality development but can fuel the development of modern and intelligent industrialization around the world, especially in developing countries, said exhibitors and buyers.

“Following in the footsteps of many of our Chinese customers who built factories overseas, our intelligent forklift AGVs are going global to help make our customers’ factories more intelligent and automated,” Ma Feifei, brand director of Hefei Gen-song Intelligent Technologies Co, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

This has helped all countries and regions, especially developing ones, achieve industrialization, and enhanced the resilience and stability of industrial and supply chains in the world, said Ma, adding that Gen-song had received more than 100 inquiries about its products as of Tuesday, the second day of the Canton Fair.

“All of our AGVs are self-developed, including the brain – the control processors inside the AGVs,” Ma noted.

Andy Lee, sales manager of Zhejiang Jinaolan Machine Tool Co, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the company’s production lines for stamping were self-developed. 

Jinaolan is a supplier to manufacturers of new-energy lithium batteries, home appliances, automobiles and other items. Its fully automatic production line can eliminate about seven jobs, said Lee.

“Our annual export value is about 50 million yuan ($6.9 million) to 100 million yuan. This is our third time participating in the Canton Fair, and more and more overseas buyers have come to see our products. We have received some inquiries from buyers from Russia, Southeast Asia and Africa,” said Lee.

With more and more advanced technologies, together with China’s world-leading manufacturing level and stable supply chains, Chinese enterprises are making high-tech products more affordable for the world, industry insiders told the Global Times.

“The automation of loading goods from production lines to trucks is currently a gap in world logistics. Our products fill this gap. Many overseas buyers made inquiries these past two days, and many of them want to be our overseas agents. We have already received orders from Germany and Southeast Asian countries,” Liu Jinshi, chief engineer of Ston Robotics Changzhou Co, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

According to Liu, after the products come off the production line, the world uses forklift workers to put them onto trucks for shipping, which takes about three hours with one worker. It’s hard for AGVs to complete the complicated process. 

“The product we showcase – a gantry logistics robot – is an automatic product for loading, which can complete the loading operation in one or two minutes, fully automatically. 

“More importantly, the cost of our equipment is repaid in about a year, which is affordable for most factories,” said Liu, noting that their first participation in the Canton Fair is anticipated to be successful.

The gantry logistics robot was released last October after about seven years of research and development, Liu said.

The 135th session of the Canton Fair continues to embrace high-tech and intelligent manufacturing. There are more than 90,000 intelligent products from nearly 3,600 enterprises being showcased, such as brain-computer interface bionic hands and artificial intelligence translation machines. 

Over 1 million new products are expected to debut at the first phase of the 135th session of the fair, from Monday to Friday, themed “advanced manufacturing.” Of these, 450,000 are green and low-carbon items and more than 250,000 are products with independent intellectual property, the Global Times learned.

The increased presence of high-tech products at the fair is a proof that China is transforming from a labor-intensive manufacturer to a major technology-driven industrial powerhouse, meaning that China can provide the world with more high-quality products, analysts said.

With each visit to the fair, attendees are able to witness the emergence of new trends and technologies driving industry development, and identify potential investment or collaboration prospects, Bekar Mikaberidze, founder of the Belt and Road Georgian Business House and veteran Canton Fair visitor, told reporters on Tuesday.

China is in a critical period – shifting from large-scale economic development to high-quality development. Any economy has a period of rapid growth, and after that, most economies will return to moderate growth. 

The second phase of rapid growth can be achieved through productivity improvement, Pan Helin, a member of the Expert Committee for Information and Communication Economy under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“Therefore, new quality productive forces, new forms of industrialization and other industrial upgrading are all aimed at achieving China’s economic transformation and productivity improvement,” said Pan.