Photo: Yang Yuanqing, founder CEO of Lenovo and a Deputy to the National People’s Congress
“Last year, despite the challenges of the epidemic, ‘Made in China’ remained unshakeable in the global supply chain and international division of labor system, playing a vital role in the rapid resumption of growth for the Chinese economy”. Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO of Lenovo Group, said in an interview with the Huan Qiu Shi Bao that as China enters the “14th Five-Year Plan” stage of high-quality development, it needs to use intelligence (smart technology) to achieve quality and efficiency improvement, accelerate its move to the middle and high end of the global value chain, and upgrade “Made in China” to “Designed in China”. Yang will submit proposals to the two sessions centred around giving full play to the power of technology to empower the real economy and developing supply chain finance.
Yang told the Huan Qiu Shi Bao that smart manufacturing is not “simply adding a few robots to the production line”, but the digitization and intelligisation of the entire manufacturing and decision-making process. “In the past few years, Lenovo, where I work, has been undergoing such a transformation”. He introduced Lenovo Group as an example, saying, “We deploy 5G private networks and rich edge devices on the production floor, use cameras for quality inspection, analyze the data provided by ‘ends’ like smart machine tools to achieve predictive maintenance, demand forecasting and intelligent planning and scheduling of component and product supply based on customer order data, …… These measures greatly improve production efficiency and product quality”. He said that the products coming out of Lenovo’s domestic smart factories not only meet the needs of the large domestic cycle, but can also grasp the needs of the global market more accurately. “Today, 90% of our products are ‘made in China’, but 70% of our revenue comes from overseas”.
In answer to the question how to “fight the battle on the crucial core technologies front”, Yang said that the key to fighting the battle of crucial core technologies is to effectively enhance independent innovation capabilities, improve China’s science and technology innovation system, and improve the layout of the whole chain from basic research, applied research, technology development to industrialization. Yang Yuanqing believes that the fourth industrial revolution provides new opportunities for “Made in China” to achieve industrial transformation and upgrading. In the field of intelligent technologies such as Internet of Things, edge computing, cloud computing, 5G, big data and AI, which are leading this industrial revolution, China is basically on the same starting line as other countries, and may have comparative advantages in some aspects. “Once these advanced smart technologies are combined with China’s massive manufacturing industry, it will provide a new springboard for China’s manufacturing industry to make up for its shortcomings, achieve breakthroughs in innovation, and play its own brand”. He said smart upgrading of the manufacturing industry will release a larger, higher-quality efficiency dividend, and lend new colors to “Made in China”.
Smart upgrading also requires more vigor in the development of vocational education. Yang Yuanqing said that the development of vocational education in China still faces some urgent problems to be solved. Firstly, social acceptance of vocational education still needs to be improved, the overall cognition of the social status of vocational education is still relatively low and there is still a gap between the social status of students after graduation from vocational education schools and that of ordinary colleges and universities. Secondly, there is a shortage of “double-teacher” — teachers with both theoretical and practical teaching abilities, and the motivation and ability of teachers need to be improved; thirdly, due to more restrictive factors, industrial enterprises are not willing and motivated to participate in running schools, especially private enterprises are still more restricted in their participation in vocational education, which makes it difficult to form synergies and affects the enthusiasm of private enterprises in running schools.
In this regard, Yang Yuanqing suggested that we should vigorously promote the spirit of craftsmanship, broaden the employment channels of vocational education students, appropriately relax the restrictive conditions of vocational education graduates in the employment process; develop the standards of “double-teacher” teachers, implement the system of teachers’ practising in enterprises and improve the welfare conditions; give full play to the advantages of industrial enterprises and activate self-motivated participation of enterprises in vocational education”. We hope that through a series of supportive policy measures, we can improve the quality of vocational education, cultivate more ‘purple-collar’ talent, and advance ‘China’s knowledge industry’ manufacturing to the high-end of the global value chain”, Yang Yuanqing said.