China industrial robot output fell 3% in Q1 2023 amid slow economic recovery

But as production lines resumed operation and employees returned to work, the slide in robot output has apparently slowed in March, observers say.

China churned out 43,883 units of industrial robots in March, down 5.7% year on year, the National Bureau of Statistics said on April 18.

According to data released by the bureau, in the first three months of this year, the country’s industrial robot production totaled 103,691 units, a decrease of 3% from the same period last year.

A breakdown of the numbers indicates that 62,036 industrial robots were produced in the first quarter, down 19.2% over the previous year.

Although the authorities didn’t explain the reasons for the contraction, a flare-up in infections after the country abandoned its strict zero-Covid policy is chiefly to blame for the dwindling output.

But as production lines resumed operation and employees returned to work, the slide in robot output has apparently slowed in March, observers say.

As China’s economy steadily gets back on track, the robotic sector is likely to gain steam this year amid a gradual recovery from Covid disruptions in early 2023, GGII, an automation-focused industry information provider, explained in a study.

China has been the world’s largest consumer of industrial robots for nine consecutive years.

Judging by the sales of industrial robots in 2022, demand mainly came from new energy vehicle, photovoltaic, lithium battery and semiconductor industries.

In the first three months of this year, PV panel and NEV output rose 53.2% and 22.5% respectively.

As these industries continue to expand, they will become a driver of demand for industrial robots, said GGII.

China’s industrial sector is slowly bouncing back, sustaining the growth of industrial robotics.

In March, the output of industrial businesses with an annual revenue of 20 million yuan (US$2.9 million) and more gained 3.9% year on year and 0.12% month on month.

In the January-March period, their output was up 3.0% year on year, a 0.3 percentage point higher than in the previous quarter.

“On the whole, industrial production was steadily rebounding in Q1, a sign that the economy was off to a good start,” said Jiang Yuan, a senior official with the bureau. “But it should be noted that the industrial economy still confronts issues such as a shortage of demand and a decline in profitability.”

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at

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