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market share Chinese robot manufacturers vs. foreign manufacturers © World Robotics 2021

market share Chinese robot manufacturers vs. foreign manufacturers © World Robotics 2021

China Aims For Global Leadership In Robotics With New 5-year Plan

The new 5-year plan for the robotics industry in China, released by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in Beijing, focuses on promoting innovation – making China a global leader for robot technology and industrial advancement. The statistical department of the International Federation of Robotics reports about the domestic and foreign engagement on the world’s largest market.

“China is by far the biggest robot market in the world regarding annual sales and the operational stock,” says Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). “IFR´s robot density statistics is a useful indicator of China´s dynamic developments, counting the number of industrial robots per 10,000 employees: China´s robot density in the manufacturing industry currently ranks 9th globally (246 units) – compared to 25th (49 units) just five years ago.”

Automation Race in China

The automation race in China today is mainly catered by foreign robot manufacturers with a combined market share of 73%. With some volatility in the past 8 years, this share has been constant. In 2020, installations of robots from abroad – mainly imported from Japan, Korea and Europe – grew strongly by 24% to 123,030 units. This number also includes units produced in China by non-Chinese suppliers. Chinese robot manufacturers mainly deliver to their domestic market, where they held a market share of 27% in 2020 with 45,347 units shipped.

Second robotics development plan

“China released the second five-year development plan for the robotics industry – following 2016-2020,” says Song Xiaogang, Executive Director and Secretary-General of the China Robot Industry Alliance (CRIA). “The plan has great guiding significance for promoting the high-quality development of China’s robotics industry during the 14th period. Robots are the key equipment of modern industry. The new 5-year plan leads the digital development and intelligent upgrading in China and also helps to promote the global robot technology progress.”

IFR China data overview – new peak in 2020


  • 168,377 new robots installed (thereof, 45,347 units from Chinese suppliers), 
    20% higher than in 2019
  • CAGR 2015-2020: +20%
  • Global ranking 2020: No.1
  • Shares of total supply: Handling operations 42%, welding 21% 
    electrical/electronics industry 37%, automotive industry 16%

Stock of operational robots

  • About 943,200 units, 21% higher than in 2019
  • CAGR 2015-2020: +30%
  • Global ranking 2020: No. 1
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