Nuclear power and high speed rail will top the focus of China's plan to invest $1.5 trillion in seven key industries and shift the world's number two economy away from its role as a supplier of cheap goods, sources said.
State-owned enterprises, rather than the government, will play the main role of channeling the investment, said one source with ties to the leadership.
China envisages high-end equipment manufacturing, including high-speed rail and aviation equipment, becoming a pillar of economic growth alongside energy-saving and environmentally friendly technologies, biotechnology and new generation information technology such as telecoms and the Internet.
“China needs to innovate if it is to compete against multinationals in the international arena,” said Qiu Gang of the Beijing office of Samsung Economic Research Institute.
“China hopes to become an industrial giant by 2015.”
It is that push by emerging economies, and China in particular, into high-end manufacturing that was seen as behind US President Barack Obama's call in his speech to Congress last week for a “Sputnik moment”, fed by spending in education and research, to make sure the United States does not lose its technological edge.
China’s high-speed rail network has been developing rapidly over the past decade, reaching a total of 8,358 km (5,182 miles), the world's longest.
The government plans to invest up to 4 trillion yuan in high-speed rail between 2011 and 2015, according to the China Securities Journal.
During Chinese President Hu Jintao's US visit in January, General Electric Co signed a deal to bring Chinese high-speed rail technology to the United States, and for GE to manufacture locomotives for China.
A spending spree on railways was an important part of China's 2008-2010 stimulus package.