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China flat panel display makers align against global rivals

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BEIJING, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Chinese companies in the photoelectric glass industry are seeking to be on par with global rivals as they align domestic peers to improve competence.

A ceremony in Beijing on Saturday marked the launch of an inter-company coalition, as government officials, company representatives and experts gathered to discuss plans to boost the industry, proposing industrial clusters and national laboratories.

As a pillar in China's electronics and information industry, the flat panel display sector has witnessed fast growth in recent years. Government data showed the sector's total value hit 107 billion yuan (17.4 billion U.S. dollars) in 2013, up 44.6 percent year on year and accounting for 11.4 percent of the global value.

Currently, the sector's home presence is concentrated on four regions including the Bohai Rim, Yangtze River Delta, Pearl River Delta, according to Jiang Zhenghua, honorary president of the Chinese Association of Productivity Science.

However, the sector faces multiple problems such as an incomplete industrial chain and loose industrial structure, Jiang said, adding more needs to be done to improve production technology and enhance innovation.

Li Zhaoting, Chairman of Tunghsu Group, one of the country's major makers of LCD and PDP (plasma display panel) glass substrates, said that foreign firms from countries such as the United States and the Republic of Korea have a global monopoly in the upper reaches of the sector, controlling key raw materials including glass substrates, liquid crystal, polarizer film, and optical film. This has constricted development of the domestic sector and weakened domestic panel makers' ability to cut prices.

Urbanization in China will provide a huge market for the sector in coming decades, and domestic firms need new strategies to gain a larger market. Such strategies include smart technology and pursuit of top-notch techniques, but can be achieved only through integrated industrial development and cooperation.

Tunghsu Group vice president Wang Jianqiang said that to become a power in the sector, China needs one or two leading companies that can concentrate available resources such as talent and capital. He proposed that mergers or joint investment be stepped up.

Based on the current regional layout of the sector, Jiang also proposed the country upgrade it to national-level industrial clusters. "The establishment of industrial clusters will boost growth for all sorts of companies in the industry," he said. It is also a necessity for a domestic industry subject to global competition.

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