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Nicholas Weaver
English 3
Industrialized Robots Taking Over China:
How Will the Workforce of China Respond?
China has been going through many changes lately, lifting the One-child per
family policy, struggling with unfilled jobs, even trying to get their population to become
more educated. These changes have either helped, or backfired on China causing
even more problems. Educating their population has made it so people stay in school
longer to get higher paying jobs, making it so factories have unfilled positions on the
assembly line. The One-child policy that has recently been lifted in China has further
increased the amount of unfilled jobs in factories over the years that it has been in
effect. Many of Chinese factories are refusing to increase their worker's wages, making
people want to avoid working there. China has a solution, but it may not be the best for
their workforce. The rise of industrialized robots is a very big threat, but they will fill the
jobs that aren't taken; as well as take away jobs from human workers. Despite the
efforts of some companies raising wages to attract new workers, the workforce of China
will continue to dwindle due to workers being replaced by robots and having a higher
base education.
One of the biggest problems of why there's a worker shortage is because
companies are refusing to increase worker wages. Many workers are going on strike,

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wanting the companies they work for to increase their already low wages. Companies
are responding by changing the location of where they produce their products. Big
companies are focusing their efforts in establishing new low wage factories in places
like Vietnam. Low wages in China are causing workers to struggle to stay alive; even
causing "a spate of suicides" and "worsening industrial relations" said Peter Cai who's a
journalist for The Australian. Midea, one of the largest appliance companies in China, is
a large supporter of replacing human workers with robots. Not only are low wages
making people not want to work at these factories; there are other factors that were
caused by the Chinese government themselves.
Factors such as the increase in education, and the One-Child Policy have
drastically affected the Chinese workforce. Keith Bradsher, a journalist for New York
Times explained why not only the low wages, but decisions by the Chinese government
have also affected the workforce in China. In 1997 the Chinese government increased
the number of universities; which still continues today, to combat the Asian financial
crisis. Roughly a quarter of China's young people are enrolled in Universities across
China. This plan has backfired on China overtime; making people stay in school longer
to avoid having low paying jobs such as those at the assembly line, following the
Confucian tradition. The Chinese government have been regulating their population as
well with the One-Child policy, which has been lifted as of October 29 th 2015. The Onechild policy has been lowering the amount of workers in factories because of the
decrease in overall population. The children they did have over that time period had
more schools to go to, due to the government increasing the amount of universities.

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Many Chinese companies are responding to these problems by replacing their human
workers with robots; which has its benefits.
Companies in China are proposing that replacing human workers with robots is
very beneficial. The Chinese economy used to be a powerhouse of manufacturing until
the workforce started to decrease drastically. China's robotic industry has depended on
countries like Japan and Germany, but plans to become the largest robotics market.
The Xinhua News Agency says that China is planning to buy 1.55 to 3.44 million units of
industrial robots, making it the largest robotics market in the world. The Xinhua News
Agency also gave their opinion on the topic, saying that replacing human workers with
robots is like a "LABOR DRAIN," causing many "robot factories" to increase.
Companies such as Nike and Adidas have been outsourcing a huge majority of their
production to China, but they are also replacing their workers with robots so they don't
have to increase their worker wages. The Chinese companies are almost obsessed
with robot workers, the owners of these companies believe their goals are achievable.
Leo Lewis, a journalist for The Times is taking a realistic view on China replacing
all of these human workers with robots. Leo Lewis is saying that China's goals are very
unrealistic and he says, "China's ambitions for its robot industry are the equivalent of
looking at the development of life on Earth, pulling a fish out of the sea and expecting it
to grow lungs." Lewis also says that "the march of automation must be evolution, not a
big bang." Some provinces in China are expecting to have 80% of their production
done by robots, but some companies are doing it because the government is paying
them billions of dollars to replace the human workers with robots. Terry Gou, the

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founder of Foxconn, wanted to put a million robots in his company; but the deadline he
set for himself has been long overdue (Lewis). Companies are either replacing jobs
with more efficient robot workers, or exploiting the fact that they can gain money by
replacing human workers with robots. Some companies in China are trying to minimally
affect the workforce of China thinking that it's a better solution for the long run.
The Xinhua News Agency explains that some companies in China are trying to
keep the current workforce while putting robots where unfilled jobs are. Other Chinese
factories are increasing the monthly wages for workers to $500 to attract new workers.
Does China actually need human workers on the assembly line, or will it be more
efficient to only have robot workers? Chinese companies believe that having robots
working on the assembly line, and human workers doing maintenance is safer, more
efficient, and costs lost money. The Chinese want to regain their status of a major
manufacturing powerhouse and have a bustling economy.
Companies are considering both the risks and benefits of replacing workers with
robots; and currently the good outweighs the bad. The benefit of robots includes more
efficient workers, costs less than giving human workers a higher wage, and robots don't
complain about work environments. The risks are simple, the robots having to be
replaced or fixed, but there will be human workers to maintenance them. Based on the
research, China is heading towards a robotic based manufacturing economy. If China
reaches all of their goals; they will definitely become the manufacturing powerhouse
they're striving to be. The problem of human workers being replaced by robots has
many factors to it; which all present a huge problem for China. This is China's way of

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fixing it, and it'll be very beneficial if it all works out. In the future, China will have tons of
factories with only robots on the assembly line, the workforce of China will be very
different in the future and we'll just have to see how it progresses over time.
I chose China because theyre a manufacturing powerhouse, almost everything
is manufactured there. China has been continuing to be a major influence on the
American economy. The workforce of China has been dwindling, so I was interested in
how they continue to have such a bustling economy. Little did I know; there were many
factors that contribute to my topics problem. A big struggle whilst researching was
getting statistics. The major success during my research was the fact that many other
topics intertwined with mine. I could talk about other problems that are affecting my
topics problem, which helped make my paper denser in material.

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Works Cited
"Beware the rise of the robots or you'll rage against the machines." Times [London,
England] 8 Apr. 2015: 35. Global Issues In Context. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.
"Cheaper Robots, Fewer Workers." New York Times 25 Apr. 2015. Global Issues In
Context. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.
"Robots could restore China's competitiveness." Australian [National, Australia] 28 July
2015: 23. Global Issues In Context. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.
"Xinhua Insight: Robot factories China's answer to labor shortage." Xinhua News
Agency 8 May 2015. Global Issues In Context. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.