China-Germany enter Digitalization 4.0 era
Editor: 李琨 丨CCTV.com
04-08-2016 17:07 BJT
By Ralf Ostner, English and Chinese translator based in Munich, Germany
There hasn’t been much talk on the coming digitalization of the economy, society, known as the 4th industrial revolution. Beijing´s new Five-Year Plan hopes to transform China’s export-orientated, low tech economy into a high-tech industry driven by the domestic market.
The Chinese government recognizes that digitalization and industry 4.0 are a technological revolution, which would increase productivity and output, allowing China to catch up with developments of these new industries.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had visited the Silicon Valley, Ca., USA and Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai and Alibaba founder Jack Ma both took a trip to the leading electronics and IT-fair worldwide, CEBIT in Hannover, Germany (CEBIT touted digitalization and industry 4.0), as well as signing a technology cooperation agreement between China and Germany that are clear signals Beijing seeks to gain access to new technologies.
While Silicon Valley and Bangalore, India remain the leading centers of software production and IT technology, Europe has succumbed to a slowdown in IT development.
There is no Silicon Valley in Europe. The lack of innovation, venture capital and cooperation between universities and start ups, the missing military industrial complex in Europe are the main reasons why the continent’s IT economy is still underdeveloped.
While Europeans are good at building cars, ships and aircraft, engineering, chemical and electronics industry; strong IT technology is missing.
Europe had slept through the microelectronic revolution since the 1980s and didn´t create its Microsoft, Apple, Ebay, Google, Facebook, Amazon or giant IT companies as China did with Alibaba, Baidu, Tecent (QQ & WeChat),etc.
Google is thinking about building its own cars and German carmakers could face new competitors in traditional markets. There are many mid-sized IT companies in Germany, so called champions with German SAP as the biggest, but nothing comparable to huge American IT companies.
Many German companies are specialized in industry 4.0 and in its applications in the manufacturing sector; and China hopes to obtain German industry 4.0 knowledge.
Berlin wants to change the situation. German Minister for Economic Affairs Gabriel has published a „Digitalization strategy 2025“ with the following goals: Germany wants to build a gigabyte glasfibrenet by 2025. Startups can receive tax breaks, face fewer regulations, enjoy state subsidies, and incentives to set up start ups.
There should be a united European digital market with similar standards and European cooperation. A digitalization agency will be set up, which integrates different responsibilities of other ministries and would be under the command of the Ministry for Economic Affairs.
The school system will implement courses for basic knowledge in digitalization, computer programming so every pupil can learn algorithms before finishing school.
In Europe, Germany and Great Britain are the leading countries for startups at the moment and they want to create an innovative start-up culture, comparable to the USA.
What digitalization will mean for a future society is described by Google-CEO Eric Smith´s book, „The New Digital Age“, digitalization will influence the whole economy, transform the daily lives of billions of people, cause a new industrial revolution, and alter relations between nation states and its citizens.
Yet, Smith´s book only highlights some aspects of our future without defining its whole development. Chinese discussions about internet sovereignty would play a crucial role in state-to-state relations.
A big issue for all countries transitioning to industry 4.0 and digitalization will be how they manage massive unemployment. Although startup companies create many new jobs, other jobs will be lost in the manufacturing industry.
Some commentators in the USA and Europe have introduced the model of an unconditional basic income to resolve the problem.
Nevertheless, most countries do not have concepts on how to deal with the labor market impact of the digitalization and industry 4.0. Accordingly, Western and Asian states should learn from each other to solve problems together.
(Article at CCTV website)