Industrial Biotechnology in China


The Journal of International Commerce and Economics has printed multiple articles looking at the use of industrial biotechnology in China. The articles define biotechnology by the definition used by the U.S. International Trade Commission that says biotechnology is “the manufacture of liquid fuels and chemicals using (1) enzymes or micro-organisms at any stage of the production process, regardless of the type of raw materials used (e.g., renewable, fossil fuel-based, or inorganic); or (2) renewable resources and conventional chemical processing.”  

China’s liquid biofuels and chemical industries are increasingly using industrial biotechnology in hopes of offsetting energy security and environmental concerns created by China’s robust economic growth. Continued innovation, productivity gains and cost savings are likely results from the expanding use of bioprocesses to produce products such as fuel ethanol and bioplastics. In conjunction with strong government promotion, this leads to the two industries’ growing global prominence. 

China first produced fermented beverages as early at 9,000 years ago spurring their ongoing use of industrial biotechnology to manufacture biofuels and bio-based chemicals. Their use of industrial biotechnology can also be attributed to energy security concerns, growing energy consumption, instability in fossil fuel prices, a focus on rural development and environmental concerns. 

Vigorous government support has played a key role in encouraging China’s development of a bio-based economy, especially in regard to biofuels. The government’s approach has been extensive, focusing on R&D as well as measures supporting supply and demand. Goals outlined at the August 2010 “China Bioenergy Workshop” include replacing 15 percent of conventional energy with renewable energy by 2020 and providing necessary investment of about $800 billion. 

Read a more in depth analysis in the February 2009 article in the Journal of International Commerce, Industrial Biotechnology in China Amidst Changing Market Conditions which presents information on China’s liquid biofuels and chemical industries and their use of industrial biotechnology. Related business strategies are discussed followed by information on government policies. 

An August 2011 article, China’s Vision for Renewable Energy: The Status of Bioenergy and Bioproduct Research and Commercialization, delves deeper describing how Chinese government policies and promoting production and use of renewable energy and reductions in energy consumption. It gives examples of research and commercialization in several bioenergy industry segments, discusses the impact of increased use of renewable energy on China’s expanding and changing infrastructure, showcases examples of financing for R&D in renewable energy and highlights domestic and international collaborations and strategic alliances at both the industry and university levels.