|Xinhua File Photo
by Xinhua Writers Zhu Shaobin, Wang Zichen
HARBIN, Sept. 7 (Xinhua) -- The total output of the country's advanced materials sector expanded by 150 billion yuan (24 billion U.S. dollars) to more than 800 billion yuan last year, showing quick-paced growth that officials and experts say will persist in the coming years and trigger economic upgrade.
The annual growth of the sector in recent years has exceeded 20 percent on average, according to Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology Su Bo, who made the remarks at an industrial exposition for advanced materials being held in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.
The expo, the second of its kind held in the world's second-largest economy, has attracted nearly 1,000 enterprises to display life-changing products ranging from environmentally-friendly tableware made from natural starch and heat-trapping walls for home decoration, to impact-absorbing steel cabins used as emergency shelters during blasts at coal mines.
"Advanced materials are fundamental in promoting the upgrade of traditional industries. The sector also provides important support for the development of the countries' newly-emerging strategic industries," Su said.
These strategically-important industries include energy conservation and environmental protection, new energy, new-energy cars and high-end equipment manufacturing.
China currently boasts 18 key advanced materials technologies such as the making of special-quality steel products, advanced aluminum alloy and materials for electric car batteries, according to Gan Yong, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
Meanwhile, the country's production capacities for special-quality stainless steel, photovoltaic materials, glass fiber and functional rare earth products, among others, already hold top spots worldwide, Gan said.
According to a development plan publicized in February by the government, the country aims to expand the industrial output of the sector to 2 trillion yuan by 2015.
Heilongjiang Province, which neighbors Russia, has been vigorously developing the sector on top of its resource advantages and financial support in recent years.
The Harbin City Enterprise Credit Financing Guarantee Service Center has helped secure 2.7 billion yuan of credit for local companies engaged in the sector since last year, Wang Li, the head of the center, told Xinhua.
Around 160 local enterprises in the industry reported 46.2 billion yuan of gross output last year, up 29.8 percent year on year. Their main business revenues hit 45.5 billion yuan, up 27.5 percent, according to a press release from the provincial government's press office.
The province mainly produces polymer materials, high-end structural steel, inorganic nonmetallic materials and composites.
Other provinces such as Jiangsu and Hunan are also robustly developing new materials. Data show the output of the advanced materials sector hit 310 billion yuan in Hunan last year, marking the fourth consecutive year of growth above 30 percent, while Jiangsu has been making the sector a key area in promoting economic restructuring.
Ren Xudong, vice president of Aluminum Corporation of China, said the group is making the production of high-end non-ferrous metals one of its two development strategies, in addition to its role as a resources supplier.
Vice President of China Minmetals Corporation Li Fuli also said the group invested nearly 1.2 billion yuan last year in scientific research and development related to innovations in its new materials business.
According to Gan Yong, the country has greater room for the industrialization of advanced materials in the next five to ten years only if existing problems are addressed, such as low levels of innovations and investment for scientific research as well as poor marketing for mass applications.
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