Shaping the digital transformation of industry on a global scale

Project description

Title: Sino-German Cooperation on Industrie 4.0
Commissioned byCommissioned byCommissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi)
Country: People’s Republic of China
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People’s Republic of China (MIIT)
Overall term: 2016 to 2022

Networked Machines


China is Germany’s most important trading partner. Numerous opportunities for sales and investment result from these intensive economic relations and the ongoing digitalisation of industry in both countries. The digital transformation of industry includes new ways of doing business and working in transboundary, global and digital ecosystems. At the same time, the differing economic systems and industrial policy strategies give rise to a significant need for in-depth dialogue at all levels. Corporate cooperation, research collaboration and the development of common standards are unlocking enormous economic potential on both sides.

The German strategy for Industrie 4.0 envisages comprehensive digitalisation of industrial production and acts as a worldwide benchmark with regard to the modernisation of industry and the integration of manufacturing processes. China is pursuing similar objectives with its Made in China 2025 and Internet Plus initiatives. Against this background, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) and the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) signed a Memorandum of Understanding in July 2015 that communicates their intention to promote cooperation in the area of intelligent manufacturing. BMWi commissioned the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in 2016 to implement these plans.


The Sino-German cooperation in the area of Industrie 4.0 improves the environment and framework conditions for Chinese and German companies while actively shaping developments in industry.


With its international team, the German project office in Beijing provides cooperation-related support to BMWi. GIZ employees are helping to increase mutual understanding with regard to industrial policy and to strengthen industrial cooperation. For this purpose, they are working closely with Chinese and German experts from politics, business and academia, performing a coordinating role and providing advisory services. The project maintains close contact with the Industrie 4.0 Platform, the central coordination unit for companies, academia, associations and trade unions on the topic in Germany. In addition, the project office regularly communicates with the German Embassy in China.

The highlight of the Sino-German cooperation is the annual conference of state secretaries and deputy ministers. As part of this political dialogue, the two sides discuss the latest developments in Industrie 4.0, present the progress and challenges of the cooperation and describe their expectations for future cooperation. In addition, 80 Chinese and German experts from business and academia are working together in the Sino-German Company Industrie 4.0 and Intelligent Manufacturing Working Group (AGU). Moreover, the project regularly holds other major events, including the Sino-German Digitising with China conference. Pioneering corporate cooperation arrangements in the area of intelligent manufacturing can apply to be declared flagship projects. With regular publications and a newsletter, the project also provides information about the latest political developments and regulation projects relating to Industrie 4.0.

Group picture: Plenary meeting of the Sino-German Working Group on Companies (AGU), 2019 Changsha, China


As a result of the project’s work, core channels of communication have been established between German and Chinese stakeholders from the fields of politics and business. The recommendations for action developed by the AGU should benefit small and medium-sized enterprises. They are presented at the annual conference and addressed in the dialogue at the level of state secretaries and deputy ministers. The project has improved each side's political understanding of the special features of the other's industrial policy approach and thus laid important foundations for future cooperation.

Additional information