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Minister Talk: Industry Minister on China's industrial miracle 60 years on

2009-10-10 12:39 BJT

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After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, industrial development has turned a once poor nation, into one of the world's largest industrial manufacturers. In today's episode of "Minister talk", the Minister of Industry and Information Technology, Li Yizhong, tells us how the legend of "Made in China" was born, and how traditional industries have transformed to suit challenging times.

When the People's Republic of China was founded 60 years ago, it was a still backward country, dependent on agriculture. After decades of war and a collapsed economy, the country had to rebuild from scratch. With limited foreign aid and an economic blockade during the Cold War, China started a policy of self reliance, to build its own industry. In the 1950s, the country unveiled its first home-made tractor and car. A new group of industrial cities soon emerged.

But the country's lack of energy, hampered industrial development. This drove Li Yizhong to major in energy resources in university.

Li Yizhong said, "Before the founding of the People's Republic of China, the country relied mainly on imported oil. Domestically produced oil was very limited. In 1959, the Daqing oil field was discovered. I still remember when Premier Zhou Enlai announced it during my second year in college in 1962. He said China's history of using foreign oil was over. I was so excited that I burst into tears. Because at the time, China was facing a hostile world, with numerous blockades. The country had to rely on itself and set up its own industrial system. Otherwise, the people and nation could not survive."

The reform and opening-up policy in 1978 started a new era of industrial development. China allowed private businesses to compete, by setting up a market-oriented economy. Since the reforms, industrial production has seen continued expansion. In the past thirty years, China's industrial sector has increased 23 fold. The "Made in China" label now prevails all over the world.

But the unexpected global financial crisis has created challenges for the "world's factory". Li Yizhong says the best way to motivate the industry is through technological reform.