South China's economic powerhouse of Guangzhou has set a goal of having 80 percent of the city's manufacturing production done by robots instead of human labor by 2020.
According to an industrial development guideline issued by the municipal government on Tuesday, the use of industrial robots will be encouraged in mechanical and automobile manufacturing, food processing and the manufacturing of pharmaceutical, electronic and dangerous products.
The document says that there will be subsidies of up to 30,000 yuan (4,800 U.S. dollars) for those who purchase or rent a robot, and a maximum one-off subsidy of 500,000 yuan for companies that introduce a complete set of automation equipment in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province.
Increasing living expenses have led to an exodus of migrant workers from China's better-developed coastal regions to middle and western regions.
Workers in labor-intensive industries in Guangdong have staged frequent protests and strikes this year over pay. The latest massive strike continued for a third day on Wednesday in a shoe factory in Dongguan City. Thousands of workers from Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings), a footwear maker for global sportswear brands including Nike and Adidas, took to the street after failing to agree with the employer on welfare programs.
The Guangzhou municipal government believes the rising human resource costs and increased demand for sophisticated manufacturing have provided an opportunity for accelerated roll-out of robots.
The government document pinpoints that the government will be dedicated to fostering a robot-making industry with estimated output value of over 100 billion yuan by 2020, when it will boast two to three robotics industrial parks.