Private investors will be encouraged to play a bigger role in upgrading the manufacturing sector, as China steps up efforts to widen access to key industries, the top industry regulator said on Sunday.
"Private investors have contributed 60 percent of the money poured into the manufacturing sector," said Miao Wei, the minister of industry and information technology. "We need to improve efforts to remove barriers and lower the entry threshold."
Speaking at the three-day China Development Forum in Beijing, he said investment in manufacturing grew by only 3 percent last year, partly because the sector yields lower returns than the real estate and financial sectors.
"We will motivate enterprises to expand from production to manufacturing design and services, to enhance profitability," Miao said. "Private enterprises face more barriers than foreign counterparts in some industries. We're determined to change that. One solution is to accelerate the mixed ownership reform."
China United Network Communications Group, the nation's second-largest telecom carrier by subscribers, is among the State-owned enterprises looking into attracting private investors.
"Private investors have less confidence in the manufacturing industry because the rate of return is relatively low," said Luo Zhongwei, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Industrial Economics.
The government should introduce preferential policies to steer private capital into upgrading the manufacturing industry, he said.
Miao reiterated that Made in China 2025, a national strategy to promote high-end manufacturing, welcomes Chinese and foreign companies to take part and is expected to bring equal opportunities to local and international enterprises.
The reason experts have suggested setting market-share targets for some domestically made products and equipment is because of stringent export restrictions on high-end products imposed by some countries, he said.
As a result, China has no option but to rely on domestic companies to meet the demands of the local market, he added.
Made in China 2025 adheres to government-led, market-oriented principles, said Miao, who was quoted as saying during the annual session of the National People's Congress: "Foreign and Chinese enterprises will continue to be treated equally."