Statistics from the Chinese Ceramic Society show that over 30 glass production lines equipped with advanced float glass technology, which creates a smoother and better quality of flat glass, are currently under construction across the country.
One-third of the lines will be completed and put into operation by the end of June, while the remainder are expected to be operational later this year and in 2005.
Last year, the glass industry turned out a total of 252 million weight-boxes of flat glass, registering an increase of 11.1 per cent over 2002. One box weighs 50 kilograms.
At the same time, the industry recorded a 22.4 per cent growth in sales revenues to hit 21.22 billion yuan (US$2.63 billion), which was accompanied by a 10 to 12 per cent rise in price and a total profit of 1.35 billion yuan (US$163.24 million). In 2002, the industry amassed losses of 90 million yuan (US$10.88 million).
Despite the losses, Tan Fu, an official with the Chinese Ceramic Society, said: "It was one of the best years for the glass industry in more than two decades."
Encouraged by profit margins and rising demand from many sectors, especially the construction and automobile industries, flat glass production and sales continue to maintain a strong momentum this year.
Tan made his remark while releasing details about the 15th China International Glass Industry Technology Exhibition, which is scheduled to be held at Beijing's China International Exhibition Centre later this month.
The exhibition will cover a total floor space of 35,000 square metres, making it the largest of its kind in Asia. It has attracted over 570 exhibitors from 23 countries and regions, said Mo Wenyi, another official with the society.
Jin Zhanping, deputy secretary-general of the society, said although China is now the world's largest glass producer, its deeply processed glass and glass products still have low ratios in terms of the total value of the industry.
Therefore, vigorously developing high additional-value-added deep-processing glass and glass products will be a priority for the industry in the years to come, he said.
For this reason, Chinese enterprises have a lot to learn from their foreign counterparts, especially those from Western countries which have developed advanced deep-processing technology, equipment and management expertise.
One of the most deregulated industries in the country, the glass sector has been developing rapidly with the assistance of foreign-funded ventures and private firms.
Of the total sales revenues and profits, non-State-owned firms including foreign-funded ventures and private groups account for 60 per cent and over 91 per cent, respectively, according to the society.