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本文摘要:OVER the last decade, China has become, in the eyes of much of the world, a job-eating monster, consuming entire industries with its seemingly limitless supply of low-wage workers. But the reality is that China is now shifting its appetite to robots, a transition that will have significant consequences for China’s economy — and the world’s.在全球很多地方显然,过去十年中国早已出了一个风化工作机会的恶魔,向各行各业运送着好像无穷无尽的廉价工人。

OVER the last decade, China has become, in the eyes of much of the world, a job-eating monster, consuming entire industries with its seemingly limitless supply of low-wage workers. But the reality is that China is now shifting its appetite to robots, a transition that will have significant consequences for China’s economy — and the world’s.在全球很多地方显然,过去十年中国早已出了一个风化工作机会的恶魔,向各行各业运送着好像无穷无尽的廉价工人。但现实是,中国目前正在将自己的用工市场需求改向机器人。

这一改变将对中国以及全球的经济产生根本性影响。In 2014, Chinese factories accounted for about a quarter of the global ranks of industrial robots — a 54 percent increase over 2013. According to the International Federation of Robotics, it will have more installed manufacturing robots than any other country by 2017.2014年,在全球工业机器人大军中,中国工厂里的机器人占到了约四分之一,同比增加54%。据国际机器人联合会(International Federation of Robotics)称之为,到2017年,中国加装的工业机器人数量将居于全球之首。


Midea, a leading manufacturer of home appliances in the heavily industrialized province of Guangdong, plans to replace 6,000 workers in its residential air-conditioning division, about a fifth of the work force, with automation by the end of the year. Foxconn, which makes consumer electronics for Apple and other companies, plans to automate about 70 percent of factory work within three years, and already has a fully robotic factory in Chengdu.在高度工业化的广东,著名家电制造商美的计划在今年年底之前,用自动化代替其家用空调部门的6000名员工,这约是其员工总数的五分之一。为苹果(Apple)和其他公司生产消费电子产品的富士康(Foxconn)计划在三年内让工厂里约70%的工作构建自动化。此外,该公司坐落于成都的一家工厂早已构建了全部由机器人操作者。

Chinese factory jobs may thus be poised to evaporate at an even faster pace than has been the case in the United States and other developed countries. That may make it significantly more difficult for China to address one of its paramount economic challenges: the need to rebalance its economy so that domestic consumption plays a far more significant role than is currently the case.因此,中国工厂里的工作岗位消失的速度,有可能将比在美国和其他发达国家还要慢。这可能会大大增加中国应付其首要经济挑战之一的可玩性。这个挑战就是,中国必须构建经济的再行均衡,这样国内消费才能充分发挥出有远比当前更大的起到。

China’s economic growth has been driven not just by manufacturing exports, but also by fixed investment in things like housing, factories and infrastructure — in fact, in recent years investment has made up nearly half of its gross domestic product. Meanwhile, domestic consumer spending represents only about a third of the economic pie, or roughly half the level in the United States.中国经济快速增长的动力不仅是制造业出口,还有房地产、工厂和基础设施领域的相同投资。事实上,近年来投资在其国内生产总值中所占到的比例已相似一半。


与此同时,国内消费开支仅有占到中国经济这个蛋糕的大约三分之一,大体相等于美国的一半。This is clearly unsustainable. After all, there eventually has to be a return on all those investments. Factories have to produce goods that are profitably sold. Homes have to be occupied, and rent has to be paid. Generating those returns will require Chinese households to step up and play a larger role: They will have to spend far more, not just on the goods produced in China’s factories, but increasingly in the service sector.这似乎是不可持续的。却是,所有这些投资最后都得有报酬。工厂得生产出能卖出去并且能利润的商品。

房子得有人寄居,房租得有人缴。构建这些报酬拒绝中国家庭出来充分发挥更大的起到:他们得大大增加开支,不仅是出售中国工厂生产的商品,而且要更加多地在服务业消费。Making that happen will be an extraordinary challenge. Indeed, the Chinese leadership has been talking about it for years, but virtually no progress has been made. One problem is that even in the wake of recent wage increases, average Chinese households simply have too little income relative to the size of the economy.构建这一点将是一项艰难的挑战。

事实上中国领导层早已辩论了多年,但完全并未获得任何进展。其中一个问题是,即便经历了最近的涨薪,相对于中国的经济规模,普通中国家庭的收益也还是过于较少。Another problem is that the Chinese public has an extraordinary propensity to save. By some estimates, the average household socks away as much as 40 percent of its income. That may be partly driven by the need to provide for retirement and self-insure against risks like unemployment and illness, as China’s newly capitalistic economy has largely decimated the social safety net.另一个问题是,中国民众具有非比寻常的储蓄偏向。

据一些人估算,普通家庭存款占到其收益的比例高达40%。这有可能部分是因为他们必须为卸任,以及抵抗失业和疾病等危险性的自保考虑到,因为中国新的构成的资本主义经济大大巩固了社会保障体系。The bottom line is that any policy designed to rebalance economic growth will have to raise household incomes while dampening down the saving rate. That would be a daunting challenge under any circumstances, but accelerating technology is virtually certain to make it far more difficult.关键是,任何目的再行均衡经济快速增长的政策,都得在减少家庭收入的同时减少储蓄率。

这在任何情况下都是一项艰难的挑战,但技术的变革完全必定不会让其可玩性大大增加。The traditional path followed by developed countries has been to first raise incomes and build a solid middle class on the basis of manufacturing, and then later to make the transition to a service economy. The United States, and later, countries like Japan and South Korea, had the luxury of undertaking that journey at a time when technology was far less advanced. China is faced with making a similar transition in the robotic age.发达国家采行的传统途径是,再行增加收入,并以制造业为基础建构平稳的中产阶级,然后再行向服务型经济过渡性。美国,以及后来的日本和韩国等国,都幸运地在科技近没有现在这么繁盛时已完成了这个过程。


中国则于是以面对着在机器人时代展开类似于的过渡性。Automation has already had a substantial impact on Chinese factory employment: Between 1995 and 2002 about 16 million factory jobs disappeared, roughly 15 percent of total Chinese manufacturing employment. This trend is poised to accelerate.自动化早已对中国工厂里的低收入岗位产生了极大的影响:从1995年到2002年,大约有1600万工厂工作岗位消失,约占到中国制造业岗位总数的15%。这一趋势还将加快。

That might not be a problem if the Chinese economy were generating plenty of higher-skill jobs for more educated workers. The solution, then, would simply be to offer more training and education to displaced blue-collar workers.如果中国经济能为不受教育更好的人建构大量技能拒绝更高的岗位,这也许就不是问题了。那么解决办法不过是向被代替了的蓝领工人获取更加多培训和教育。

The reality, however, is that China has struggled to create enough white-collar jobs for its soaring population of college graduates. In mid-2013, the Chinese government revealed that only about half of the country’s current crop of college graduates had been able to find jobs, while more than 20 percent of the previous year’s graduates remained unemployed.但现实是,中国已无力为人数攀升的高校毕业生建构充足的白领岗位。2013年中期,中国政府透漏,只有约一半应届高校毕业生能寻找工作,而上一年的毕业生中多达20%的人仍然正处于待业状态。

According to one analysis, fully 43 percent of Chinese workers already consider themselves to be overeducated for their current positions. As software automation and artificial intelligence increasingly affect knowledge-based occupations, especially at the entry level, it may well become even more difficult for the Chinese economy to absorb workers who seek to climb the skills ladder.一项分析表明,有数整整43%的中国员工指出,自己的教育程度低于当前职位所须要。随着软件自动化和人工智能对于以科学知识为基础的岗位,尤其是入门岗位产生更加大的影响,中国经济不会更加无以招揽那些期望提高技能的员工。What policies might help China succeed in making the transition to a consumer economy even as the robotic revolution unfolds? Strengthening the health care, retirement and unemployment insurance systems, so that workers feel more secure, might help lower the savings rate somewhat.什么政策可以协助中国顺利地构建向消费型经济的转型,即便此时机器人革命正在首演?强化医疗卫生、卸任和失业保险制度,从而提高员工的安全感,这有可能在一定程度上有助减少储蓄率。


However, it seems likely that the Chinese government will ultimately need to resort to direct income supplementation in some form — perhaps through a program similar to the earned-income tax credit in the United States. Even that may prove ineffective in the long run as rapidly advancing technology leaves more and more workers behind.不过,中国政府最后有可能必须借助某种形式的必要收益补足,也许是通过某种与美国的“劳动所得税抵免”(earned-income tax credit)类似于的计划来构建。即便如此,长年来看有可能也没效果,因为科技的很快发展,将更加多的员工抛在了身后。

China could well turn out to be ground zero for the economic and social disruption brought on by the rise of the robots. The country’s relatively brittle authoritarian political system, together with its dependence on a sustained level of economic growth that would be considered extraordinary in any developed nation, suggest that China may face a staggering challenge as it attempts to adapt to the realities of a new age.在机器人的兴起所带给的经济和社会毁坏当中,中国很可能会是一个中心。中国的威权主义政治制度比较薄弱,而且依赖持续的经济快速增长,其经济快速增长水平在任何一个发达国家显然都是超乎寻常的。这两点指出,在企图适应环境新时代的现实时,中国有可能面对着极大的挑战。