China Baowu: Steely Resolve to Be a World Leader

2021-12-30 15:24:00 Source:China Today Author:
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China Baowu has opened a new chapter for green development, and is striving to be a world-class enterprise of sustainable growth and make greater contributions to society. 

It was the top ranked steel company in the world in 2020, producing an impressive 115 million tons of the metal. The China Baowu Steel Group Corporation Limited (China Baowu) has since been included in the list of demonstration enterprises for cultivating global competitiveness by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council. Ranked 72nd in Fortune Global 500 in 2021, China Baowu continued to rank first among global steel companies. 

As the result of consolidation and restructuring of the former Baosteel Group Corporation Limited and Wuhan Iron & Steel (Group) Corporation, China Baowu was officially launched in December 2016. It then joined forces with Ma’anshan Iron and Steel Co. Ltd. in 2019 and Taiyuan Iron & Steel (Group) and Chongqing Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. in 2020. The history of China Baowu mirrors that of China’s modern steel industry, which can be traced back to Jiangnan Machinery Manufacture General Bureau and Hanyang Ironworks that were established in 1890. 


China Baowu vigorously promotes green and low-carbon development, produces green products, and supports green development with smart manufacturing. 

From Small Beginnings (1890-1949) 

More than 100 years ago China was poor, weak, and often bullied by other countries. It was around this time that forward thinking people proposed the idea of a Westernization Movement to “learn from foreigners in order to compete with them,” thus starting the industrialization process of self-reliance. In 1890, the Qing government purchased an open hearth furnace from the U.K. and built a steel works under the Jiangnan Manufacturing Bureau in Shanghai (later renamed Shanghai Steel Works). The Hanyang Iron Works began construction in Wuhan the same year. These were the beginning of modern China’s steel industry and the beginnings of the century-old Baowu. 

With the outbreak of the First World War, the steel industry saw the construction of several new steel plants. In 1913, the Hexinghua Iron Works was established in Pudong, Shanghai. However, the boom was fleeting. When China began a full-scale war of resistance against Japanese aggression in 1937, some of its iron and steel enterprises were occupied by the Japanese invaders, while some moved westward to Sichuan and Chongqing to try and improve their fortunes. 

The Hanyang Iron Works and Shanghai Steel Works moved to Chongqing in 1938 and became the forerunner of Chongqing Iron and Steel, and China’s modern iron and steel industry was preserved. After the resistance war, the plants continued to develop in Chongqing and during the civil war hit on hard times, impacted by surplus steel production capacity from abroad. Private steel plants were also beset with difficulties. China’s steel sector shrank and was on the verge of collapse with a paltry output of just 158,000 tons in 1949, less than a fraction of the world’s steel powers. 

The Start-up (1949-1978) 

During the early years of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), much remained to be done. In 1956, China put forward a plan to develop iron and steel enterprises, including building three major bases in Anshan, Wuhan, and Baotou; five medium-sized steel works with an annual output of 300,000 to one million tons in Taiyuan, Chong-qing, and Ma’anshan, and 18 small steel plants with an annual output of 100,000 to 300,000 tons in 18 provinces and autonomous regions. 

In 1966, Guangdong Province relocated the Xiamao Steelworks, which was established by the People’s Liberation Army in 1958, to Shaoguan and built the Shaoguan Steelworks. 

In 1969, to ease the shortage of pig iron, Shanghai decided to build an iron-making plant with an annual output of 1 million tons of pig iron near the Meishan Iron Ore Mine in the suburbs of Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. The main project of Meishan phase one was completed and put into production in 1971. 

In August 1972, China decided to introduce technology from abroad to build a 1.7-meter rolling mill at Wuhan Iron and Steel, which was at an international advanced level at that time. Basically completed in 1978, it changed China’s product mix of steel manufacturing, a vital transition for the steel industry. 

Brilliant Take-off (1978-2016) 

Thanks to China’s reform and opening-up, its steel industry strove to become globally competitive. 

In December 1978, Baosteel project broke ground in Baoshan, Shanghai. The project used the most updated technology and attracted the largest investment. The establishment of Baosteel closed the gap between China and the world’s steel industry in areas such as equipment, technology, and management. Baosteel became China’s first 10-million-ton super-large steel complex in 2000. 

In 1996, China’s steel output exceeded 100 million tons, and its steel industry embarked on a new journey, after horizontal mergers and acquisitions, optimization and reorganization, to build world-class steel groups. A number of enterprises started the process of reorganization and amalgamation, and have since grown rapidly. In 1998, iron and steel enterprises in Shanghai were reorganized and the Baosteel Group was established. Ma’anshan Steel merged with Anhui’s Hefei Iron and Steel Group Company and acquired SAS VALDUNES, a century-old France-based company. Wuhan Steel, Taiyuan Steel and Chongqing Steel also conducted mergers and regrouped. 

While implementing strategic reorganization, the five major steel groups focused on opening up to the outside world and invested heavily in the introduction of advanced foreign technology and equipment. By adopting new technology to carry out transformation of old enterprises, they realized modernization and sought sustainable development, and their production scale and product structure took a qualitative leap forward. Consequently China’s steel industry achieved a wonderful transformation from being a major importer to an exporter. 

Leading the Future of Steel (2016-Present) 

In December 2016, the Baosteel Group and Wuhan Iron and Steel (Group) Corp. joined forces and were reorganized. Since its establishment, China Baowu has been committed to acheiving coordinated development of the new materials industry, smart service industry, resources and environment industry, industrial park industry, and industrial finance industry together with the steel manufacturing industry. 

China Baowu vigorously promotes green and low-carbon development, produces green products, and supports green development with smart manufacturing. In 2021, China Baowu was among the first in the industry to release carbon emissions reduction targets: achieve carbon peaking in 2023, reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2025, reduce carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2035, and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. 

In terms of leading smart innovation, China Baowu comprehensively promotes smart manufacturing and conducts cross-industry, cross-space, and cross-interface integration. The Baoshan Base of Baosteel, a subsidiary of China Baowu, became the only domestic steel company to be named a lighthouse factory by the World Economic Forum. Its industrial internet platform was added onto the “2020 List of Cross-Industry and Cross-Field Industrial Internet Platforms” by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. 

In terms of leading quality innovation, China Baowu has completed the research and manufacturing of a series of key materials in many fields, such as aerospace, energy and power, transportation, and national major projects, which strongly support the high-quality development of China’s national economy. China Baowu continues to innovate and move forward, launching a series of high-quality steel products that meet the development needs of the new era, and contribute its strength to benefiting people’s livelihood. 

Looking forward to a new journey, China Baowu has set the green production goal of more than 100 million tons, and is striving to become an ever improving world-class enterprise. 

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