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China's premier global ambition

First publishedin Aggregates Business International
2017 November December
Guy Woodford, Editor
Guy Woodford, Editor

China’s president, Xi Jinping, heralded the dawn of a “new era” of Chinese politics and power at the start of the recent 19th Communist party congress, celebrating the end of his first term in office. Addressing delegates in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi said that thanks to decades of “tireless struggle” China stood “tall and firm in the east”.

Now, Xi said, it was time for his nation to transform itself into “a mighty force” that could lead the world on political, economic, military and environmental issues.

“The Chinese nation … has stood up, grown rich, and become strong – and it now embraces the brilliant prospects of rejuvenation … It will be an era that sees China moving closer to centre stage and making greater contributions to mankind,” the 64-year-old leader boldly declared.

It is not hard to find evidence to back up such big talk when you assess China’s current and likely future impact on the world’s quarrying, mining and construction markets.

This autumn, LiuGong, one of China’s biggest global-selling construction and quarrying equipment manufacturers, officially opened the company’s first European region headquarters in Warsaw. As well as the state-of-the-art regional HQ, the ambitious OEM also showcased to the world’s construction equipment media its expanded LiuGong Dressta manufacturing facility and new LiuGong Dressta Parts Distribution Centre, both in Stalowa Wola, southern Poland.

Other leading Chinese OEMs such as XCMG, Sany, Zoomlion and SDLG have repeatedly stressed how they see exports outside China as not only vital to overall sales growth, but also to establishing themselves as greatly respected players in the ultra-competitive international marketplace.

Indeed, this year’s biggest global construction and quarrying equipment show - the CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2017 exhibition in Las Vegas, USA – included a joint presentation by senior executives from China’s biggest global market OEMs who said their companies had learned past lessons and were ready to claim a  larger share of the global market, particularly in the US.

As regular readers of Aggregates Business International will know, the previous issue of ABI included a three-page report on my trip to SDLG’s headquarters in Linyi, which highlighted not only the remarkable progress of the company, now 70% owned by Volvo Construction Equipment, in its 45-year history, but also its fierce hunger to increase its global exports.

The African continent is a prime example of what is, to quote president Xi Jinping, already China’s “mighty force” on the world stage. From Kenya, East Africa, our correspondent Shadrack Kavilu examines how home-grown construction firms are struggling to survive after Chinese rivals entered the domestic market. Is this a long-term issue and does it have more wide-reaching implications for the East African construction sector as a whole? Draw your own conclusions from Shadrack’s thought-provoking feature.

Adding further to the Chinese flavour of this edition of ABI, I report on the current aggregate demand in China, where a somewhat resurgent domestic demand for construction equipment is set to fuel a growing market for aggregates this year and in 2018.

I am really looking forward to seeing first-hand whether the president’s bold vision for China’s future is being realised in the construction and quarrying equipment sectors when I attend the next staging of the bauma China exhibition in Shanghai (27- 30 November 2018). But before that, I’m keen to see all the latest product launches and hear the latest trading news from Chinese global OEMs exhibiting at INTERMAT 2018 in Paris (23-28 April). I’m expecting big things.