China The Long March

 China has always been a separate star in the constellation of the world textile industry.
Today, however, signs of substantial economic take-off are surfacing, in concert with the favorable
overall trend at the international level.Concurrent with the China International Textile Machinery
Exhibition (CITME) 2000, staged in Beijing, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) concluded a three-day
meeting of the Central Committee by issuing a document which, laying aside the traditional,
strongly ideological tones, focused instead on the reforms required to cope with global
competition. The 10th five-year plan worked out by the CCP no detail of which has yet been revealed
envisages a doubling of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2010, with an annual growth of at least
7 percent. The growth anticipated for the year 2000 is 7.5 percent (in 1999, the GDP totaled $992
billion).Behind the concern for the countrys social development, there is, obviously, its impending
entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, the document makes no mention of the WTO,
but warns instead against the danger of competitiveness and globalization. If no development takes
place, states an editorial published in the Peoples Daily, the differences in relation to advanced
countries will widen, and China will no longer have a say in the international arena.Beijing must,
therefore, prepare for its ever-larger integration into the international economic scene. The
launching point of the new economy lies, however, in political reforms, which is why the Central
Committee raised the issue of modernization. The goal is the maintenance of a long-term political
stability in order to create a good atmosphere for the reforms and for the opening to the rest of
the world. The Search For StabilityTo put it bluntly: political stability is a must. Needless
to say, this kind of news appealed to the entrepreneurs and managers seen in the crowded halls at
CITME. And, likewise, the outcome of the Central Committee session was in the forefront at press
conferences and meetings with representatives of Chinese industry. Even though for months the Asian
giant had shown a clear upswing in the purchase of textile machines (virtually for all segments of
the production chain, from fiber opening plants to finishing plants), there is no doubt that
renewed and tangible interest surfaced at the fair. The prospects opened up by the new five-year
plan also feed a grounded hope of business development.Many people think that China may embark,
with the advent of the third millennium, on a new version of the long march that came to an end 50
years ago with the founding of the Peoples Republic of China. However, the obvious difference is
that the future course will no longer be marked by military bands and the rumble of guns, but by
the more reassuring rhythm of machines that promise to bring the most densely populated country in
the world to new economic levels. CITME 2000CITME pulled in nearly 103,000 visitors, including
a large number of top managers of the world textile industry. At the event, 685 companies had a
major presence, with numerous machines and a large group of techno-commercial staff.Two events
related to CITME proved to be particularly interesting. The Swiss Evening was a lavish celebration
of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations established in 1950 between China and Switzerland,
the first European nation to officially recognize the new republic formed by Mao Ze Dhong.The
evenings events included a unique competition among four Chinese universities and institutes
engaged in the education of young designers. The four winners (one from each school) will be hosted
for one week in Switzerland, where they will see what is being done at the Swiss Textile College
the comparable Swiss training institute for the textile and clothing industry.Another presentation
was made by a delegation of Japanese industry executives headed by Junichi Murata, chairman of the
Japanese Textile Machinery Manufacturers Association (JTMA). The information so far available about
the 7th Osaka International Textile Machinery Show (OTEMAS) scheduled to take place in October 2001
included an updated list comprising several hundred companies that have already booked booths for
the Japanese exhibition. Also highlighted was the 10,000-square-meter IT Pavilion, which will
present information technology and supply-chain management as the textile industrys keys to new
levels of efficiency and quality.

December 2000