Nov 07, 2018 06:16 PM

Chart of the Day: China’s Long March to Catch Up in Robotics

China’s manufacturing sector is fast replacing human workers with robots. Robot density increased from 25 units per 10,000 employees in 2013 to 68 units in 2016, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR).


Graphic: Gao Baiyu/Caixin

Across the globe, China ranked 23rd in robot density in 2016. Its automation level, while fast improving, is still behind the global average of 74 robots per 10,000 employees, according to a recent report published by the IFR.

South Korea continues to top the global chart of robot density in manufacturing, a position the country has held since 2010. In 2016, South Korea had 631 robots per 10,000 employees, more than eight times the global average. The country was followed in the ranking by Singapore (488 units), Germany (309 units), Japan (303 units), and Sweden (223 units), according to the report.

As China faces falling birth rates and a rapidly aging society, automation could be the key to maintaining productivity as its traditional labor force shrinks, according to a report published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. China’s labor authorities have estimated that the country’s labor force will fall from 911 million in 2016 to about 700 million by 2050.

The Chinese government has set an ambitious goal for automation. It intends to make it into the world’s top 10 most-automated nations by 2020, rising to 150 units per 10,000 employees, according to the IFR’s report.

Contact reporter Charlotte Yang (

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