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China Overtaking South Korea in Growing Number of Industries
Ranging from Home Electronics to Cars
China Overtaking South Korea in Growing Number of Industries
  • By Jung Min-hee
  • May 9, 2019, 09:52
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Chinese companies are chasing their South Korean counterparts in various industries. 

Chinese companies are nipping at the heels of their South Korean counterparts in various industries, including semiconductor, automobile, electric vehicle (EV) battery, liquid crystal display (LCD), consumer electronics, and organic light-emitting diode (OLED). Their rapid growth is based on their huge domestic market and full-scale support from the Chinese government in the form of tax incentives, subsidies, and regulations targeting non-Chinese companies.

Chinese automakers are distinguishing themselves in the EV industry through a series of M&As. For example, Geely Auto, the owner of Volvo, and BYD, the largest EV manufacturer in China, are aggressively expanding their EV business these days. BYD, which began to manufacture cars in 2003 by taking over a small automaker, has beaten Tesla to become the world’s number one EV manufacturer.

In the first quarter of this year, CATL accounted for 23.8 percent of the global EV battery market as the largest player in the market. BYD took the third place with 15.3 percent. The two companies have improved their technologies for years and now they are comparable in terms of technological strength to global leaders such as LG Chem and Samsung SDI. In addition, Farasis and many other Chinese EV battery manufacturers are emerging in the field of pouch battery, which requires highly advanced technology.

BOE is already dominating the global LCD panel market. The company is about to put 10.5-generation production lines into operation, which means South Korean LCD panel manufacturers are about to be overtaken even in the market segment of large LCD panels. The same thing is going on in the OLED industry, too. Huawei recently picked BOE as the sole supplier of flexible OLED panels for its flagship smartphone P30 Pro and BOE is currently aiming to supply its products to Apple.

Chinese consumer electronics manufacturers, in the meantime, are increasing their presence in the high-end consumer electronics market by acquiring American and European companies. For instance, Haier took over the household appliances business unit of GE in 2016 and completed its merger with Italian company Candy early this year. Midea, another of the top three in China, has acquired multiple companies, including an Italian air conditioner manufacturer and a German robot manufacturer.

Chinese steelmakers are challenging industry leaders such as POSCO, ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel. Baosteel Group and Wuhan Steel Group, the second- and sixth-largest in China, merged with each other in 2016 to launch BaoWu Steel Group with the Chinese government backing. The new company is making a huge investment in R&D of high-manganese steel products and the like.