An employee works on tires at Continental's plant in Hefei, Anhui province. [Provided to China Daily]
The 2021 World Manufacturing Convention kicks off on Friday in Hefei, Anhui province, drawing numerous global participants and adding a boost to the province's ambitions to become a regional hub for smart manufacturing among domestic and global players.
The four-day event, which also aims to deepen manufacturing ties between Anhui and the outside world through digital empowerment, is being held both online and offline.
A special exhibition area of 27,000 square meters is hosting 23 major events categorized into four aspects－opening and closing ceremonies, keynote forums, 600 project matchmaking activities and 10 parallel forums.
During the past three sessions of the annual WMC, a total of 1,752 projects have been signed in Anhui involving total investment of 1.8 trillion yuan ($281.5 billion), and 1,518 projects have started construction.
Manufacturing is the foundation of the nation's economy. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the added value of China's manufacturing industry surpassed that of the United States in 2010, making China the largest manufacturing country.
The Anhui Provincial Department of Economy and Information Technology said the province was counted among China's top 10 manufacturing provinces for the first time after recording manufacturing added value of more than 1 trillion yuan in 2020.
Currently, Anhui has a modern industrial system, covering 40 major sectors, of which manufacturing spans 31, said Cui Yiqun, chief of the department's planning division.
Anhui's Party Secretary Zheng Shanjie said it is necessary for the province to pay closer attention to industrial innovation to keep up with emerging industries and core technologies.
Anhui Governor Wang Qingxian said technological innovation is an outstanding advantage in Anhui's development, and the province should vigorously attract investment and talent.
It is necessary for Anhui to support high-quality development with high-quality investment, Wang said.
In advanced manufacturing, Anhui is seeking major breakthroughs in areas including integrated circuits, new displays, intelligent voice, industrial robots and high-performance new materials, Cui said.
In Hefei, Anhui Jianghuai Automobile and Volkswagen Group established a joint venture to produce new energy vehicles.
Also in Hefei, listed company iFlytek has become a key software enterprise dedicated to intelligent speech and language technologies.
Established in 1999, the company has seen its core intelligent speech technology rank among the best in the world.
Using the WMC platform, Anhui has promoted project cooperation with both domestic and overseas manufacturers, Cui added.
Home to seven national laboratories for science and technology, Hefei is playing an essential role in scientific research in China, said Ammar Hawbani, an associate professor at the University of Science and Technology of China.
The WMC is a world-leading platform for industrial communities to share achievements in many advanced fields, he said.
The 2021 WMC is co-sponsored by the Anhui provincial government along with some central government agencies.