China: future industry leader from 2025?
In the Beijing region, the Landsky Techno-logy company is inventing new lighting systems. One of them was used to illuminate the national stadium at the Olympic Games. 2,000 kilometers away, in the province of Guizhou, FlexBot provides parts for the autonomous car. In the Hubei region, Kofon Motion Group produces machines for peeling crayfish – a dish the Chinese love – but also engine components. These three SMEs have received an official stamp: they are among some 8,000 “little giants” already identified in all provinces by the Chinese state, which intends to bring out 10,000 by 2025.
Behind one of these colorful formulas of which China has the secret is a project dear to Xi Jinping. The expression appeared as early as 2020. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology then defined it: “The “little giants” are still at an early stage of their development, focus on new generations of information technologies, cutting-edge production tools, new energies, new materials, biotechs and all other cutting-edge sectors.”
Criteria to be fulfilled
To qualify for this label, which entitles them to subsidies, tax breaks and credits, SMEs must meet specific criteria: carry out R&D, have filed patents attesting to their innovative character and above all appear on the list of sectors identified by the State. Sectors where China is encountering supply problems and intends to strengthen its autonomy. “China is lagging behind in the manufacture of some sophisticated industrial components,” the ministry said on March 8.
Freeing oneself from dependence on Western groups: this imperative haunts the Red Emperor. “As early as 2006, the government was talking about “indigenous” technologies, recalls Françoise Huang, economist specializing in China at Allianz Trade (formerly Euler Hermès).
The Made in China 2025 plan, announced in 2015, already listed the industries for which China wanted to become the leader by 2025.” If Beijing has erased the reference to Made in China, the same logic remains at work .