September 2, 2019

Chart of the Week: China’s progress in the high-tech sectors, not all it appears to be

by Fathom Consulting.

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As part of Refinitiv’s expanded China coverage, the official measure of China’s high-tech exports has been added to Datastream. This is shown as a proportion of China’s total exports in the chart above. We also include the latest Fathom Consulting estimate, a product of Fathom’s tailor-made RiCArdo database, designed to help assess President Xi’s ‘Made in China 2025’ plan, specifically his progress in transitioning China from low-end manufacturing base to high-tech powerhouse.

As shown, the National Bureau of Statistics measure is virtually double that of Fathom’s, but we believe this official measure flatters the true picture, with some of the sub-components contained not actually ‘high-tech’. To create the Fathom measure, we painstakingly whittled down over 1800 different categories of goods exports into just the high-tech sectors targeted by the ‘Made in China 2025’ plan. Based on this, China’s progress up the value chain (from traditional industries reliant on low-skilled workers towards more advanced and technology-driven growth) has been far less impressive, even stalling in recent years.

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