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Editorial : Guangdong's High-Tech Transformation

【明報專訊】GUANGDONG PROVINCE'S ECONOMY grew by 4.8% last year, falling short of the government's "above 5%" target. The growth rate was also lower than the national average of 5.2%.

While Guangdong's economic growth has fallen short of expectations, the province was still the first in China to have an economic aggregate of over RMB 13 trillion. In terms of economic size, it has been the country's biggest province for 35 years in a row, and its gross regional product could rank 11th in the world (Canada, which is ranked 10th, had an economic growth rate of just 1.9% last year). All this is commendable.

At the Provincial People's Congress meeting, Governor Wang Weizhong summarised three major problems in the province's economic growth. The first was the unstable foundation for economic recovery, especially because the province's highly export-oriented economy was more directly affected by the impacts of the external environment. The second was insufficient effective demand, with some companies facing operating difficulties. The third was the still prominent problem of bottlenecks in key core technologies.

Guangdong has always been China's major province in foreign trade, but now the international environment is fraught with difficulties. The US was China's largest trading partner for many years. Last year, however, saw a decline of 11.6% in Sino-US trade volume. The US has moved down the rankings and is now China's third-largest trading partner. It is plain to see how this has impacted on Guangdong.

Last year, Guangdong's total import and export volume increased slightly by 0.3%. This year's target growth rate is merely 1%, but it will still be hard for Guangdong to achieve. Against a backdrop of shrinking foreign trade across the board, the export of new energy vehicles is a bright spot. Last year, one in every four new energy vehicles produced in China was made in Guangdong, and exports even grew by 229%. This area also facilitated the development of related industries. This year, an energy storage battery factory will be built and put into operation, which is expected to drive high-tech exports.

In the past, exports were reliant on a large number of processed products in the manufacturing industry. This year's government work report also mentions that "manufacturing is king", but its importance is no longer what it used to be. In addition to the new energy industry, it is also necessary to expand eight industrial clusters with an output value of RMB one trillion, such as ultra-high-definition video displays, biomedicine and high-end equipment manufacturing.

Cross-border e-commerce is another export pillar that Guangdong Province has entrusted with a heavy responsibility. Last year, cross-border import and export trade carried out on online platforms reached a total value of RMB 800 billion.

As for the problem of bottlenecks in key core technologies, it is a legacy of years of neglect of basic scientific research. Despite the determination to play catch-up, it is impossible to achieve results overnight. Guangdong has stated that it will further implement projects such as "Guangdong Strong Core (Chip)" and accelerate the independent control of key core technologies. This is a matter for the whole-nation system.

The economic development prospects of Guangdong not only affect Hong Kong, but also play an important role in the whole country. Judging from Guangdong Province's plans this year, there are still many favourable factors, and there is cause for cautious optimism. However, as the international environment is not expected to be favourable to China, it is necessary for Guangdong to work hard and speed up its high-tech transformation.

明報社評2024.01.29:廣東經濟增長遜全國平均 加速轉型審慎樂觀或可期

廣東省去年經濟增長率4.8%,未能達到政府設定「5%以上」的目標,且低於全國5.2%的平均增幅。

雖然廣東經濟增長未符理想,但成為全國首個省經濟總量突破13萬億元人民幣,連續35年居於全國第一大省,地區產值在全球排名第11(排名第10的加拿大去年經濟增長只有1.9%),成績還是值得肯定的。

省長王偉中在省人大會議上總結經濟增長出現三大問題,包括經濟回升向好的基礎不穩固,特別是經濟外向度高,受外部環境衝擊影響更直接;有效需求不足,一些企業經營困難;關鍵核心技術卡脖子問題仍然突出。

廣東歷來是全國外貿大省,如今國際環境嚴峻,多年佔據中國第一大貿易伙伴的美國,去年中美貿易額下降11.6%,美國已經降為中國的第三大貿易國,對廣東的衝擊不言而喻。

去年廣東進出口總額微升0.3%,今年的目標增幅也只是1%,能否達到也有難度。在總體對外貿易萎縮的情况下,新能源汽車出口一枝獨秀。去年全國生產每4輛新能源汽車,有1輛是廣東造,出口增長更達到229%,而且還帶動相關行業發展,今年還有新建和投產儲能電池廠,相信能帶動高科技出口。

過去出口依靠大量的製造業加工產品,今年政府工作報告也提到「製造業當家」,但含金量卻是今非昔比。除新能源產業外,還要壯大8個萬億元產值的產業集群,諸如超高清視頻顯示、生物醫藥以及高端裝備製造等。

另一個廣東省委以重任的出口支柱是跨境電子商務,去年利用網絡平台進行跨境進出口貿易,總額達到8000億元。

至於核心科技被卡脖子的問題,是過去忽視基礎科學研究的欠債,雖然現在下決心急起直追,但不可能有立竿見影的效果。廣東表示要深入實施「廣東強芯(片)」等工程,加快推進關鍵核心技術自主可控,這是舉國體制的問題。

廣東經濟發展前景不但影響香港,在全國也是舉足輕重,從今年廣東省的部署看,有利因素還是佔多,審慎樂觀可期,但在國際環境預期不會利好中國的情况下,廣東在高科技轉型速度方面,必須快馬揚鞭自奮蹄。

■ Glossary 生字 /

commendable : deserving praise and approval

be fraught with : filled with something unpleasant

bright spot : a good part of something that is otherwise entirely bad or unpleasant

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