Le cauchemar de la capacité excédentaire de la Chine

SHANGHAI – En 1958, l’année de l’infortuné « Grand pas en avant », le président Mao avait des ambitions pour l’industrie de l’acier. Alors que la production avait atteint un peu plus de cinq millions de tonnes en 1957, il prévoyait que le pays rattraperait son retard et dépasserait même la production américaine avant 1962 avec une production de 80 à 100 millions de tonnes par an, pour atteindre 700 millions de tonnes par an au milieu des années 70, faisant ainsi de la Chine le leader mondial incontesté. Et tout ceci devait être réalisé avec des petits fourneaux artisanaux, manipulés par des gens ordinaires sans aucune expertise particulière.

Aujourd’hui, le rêve de Mao de rattraper le reste du monde s’est réalisé, bien qu’avec un certain retard, non seulement dans la production de l’acier, dont la capacité annuelle a atteint 660 millions de tonnes, mais aussi dans de nombreux autres secteurs. En 2008, la Chine se place au premier rang pour l’acier (environ la moitié de la production mondiale), le ciment (aussi environ la moitié), l’aluminium (environ 40%), et le verre (31%), pour ne citer que quelques exemples. Le pays a dépassé les Etats-Unis dans la production automobile en 2009 et reste deuxième derrière la Corée du sud dans la construction navale avec 36% de la capacité mondiale.

Pour les planificateurs de Pékin, cependant, la taille de la base industrielle de la Chine devient une source d’inquiétude plutôt que de réjouissances. Dans un document approuvé par le Conseil d’Etat le 26 septembre dernier, la Commission Nationale pour le Développement et la Réforme (NDRC) s’est inquiété de capacités excédentaires dans un grand nombre de secteurs. (Le Conseil d’Etat, qui inclut le Premier Ministre, le Vice Premier Ministre et les responsables des ministères et des commissions, est la plus haute autorité exécutive de la Chine.)

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