Beijing robot expo shows ambitions, limits of Chinese innovation

BEIJING – In a martial artist’s white silk pajamas, a man practiced tai chi in harmony with a motorized arm at a Beijing exhibition showcasing a vision of robots with Chinese characteristics. Vehicles with automated gun turrets sat alongside drink-serving karaoke machines at the World Robot Conference as manufacturers sought new buyers for their jiqiren, or machine people. The push has support at the highest levels of government. President Xi Jinping issued a letter of congratulations for the conference, and the industry is mentioned in the draft version of the country’s new five-year plan, the document that guides economic development. The world’s second-largest economy is already the leading market for industrial robots, accounting for a quarter of global sales, according to the International Federation of Robotics. But executives at a…


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