How Innovative Is China in the Robotics Industry?

March 11, 2024

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Robotics is one of the most important advanced technology industries of our time and will play an increasing role in the world economy.
  • China’s goals are to first become self-sufficient in robotics and to then lead the industry globally.
  • China is already the largest industrial robot market in the world. It accounted for 52 percent of robot installations worldwide in 2022, giving Chinese robot producers a key advantage in their home market.
  • Chinese robotic firms are also gaining global market share, but by and large they are “fast followers,” competing principally on lower costs while still relying on more advanced Western companies for key inputs.
  • The Chinese robotic innovation ecosystem is dynamic, and the Chinese government is making massive investments to develop the industry domestically.
  • Given the recent development of other industries in China, it is likely that China will become as innovative as foreign robotic producers in the midterm at the latest, while also enjoying a significant cost advantage.
  • Absent coherent policy responses by Western nations, China’s share of robotics production will likely fall significantly.