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Machinery and elevator demand lifting Hitachi in China

Health care, smart manufacturing and electric vehicles among its future focuses, president says

GUANGZHOU-- Hitachi's Chinese sales are expected to climb well above 1 trillion yen ($8.9 billion) in the year through this coming March, supported by a sound economy and a recovering construction machinery business, according to President Toshiaki Higashihara.

China revenue came to 930 billion yen last fiscal year, Higashihara told The Nikkei on Friday. The company expects to raise the tally further, to at least 1.1 trillion yen in the year ending March 2019.

The possibility of an economic slowdown after October's twice-a-decade Communist Party congress has been a concern. But the economy has held the line, the Hitachi chief said. "Business has been very steady lately, and the construction machinery business is picking up and will grow next year as well," he reported. "Demand for elevators and other products will continue to grow."

Higashihara said that going forward, Hitachi will strengthen operations related to health, geriatrics, medicine, smart manufacturing and electric vehicles in China. "We will expand business by capitalizing on our strength in manufacturing and digital technologies," Higashihara said with enthusiasm about expanding the company's Chinese portfolio.

The Communist Party tightened its grip on businesses around the time of the congress. At its behest, Chinese companies are voluntarily revising their articles of incorporation to give the party greater say. But Higashihara said it is too early to gauge the impact on foreign enterprises operating in-country. "So far, we haven't felt the party's control front and center," he said.

Cybersecurity legislation that took effect in June requires businesses to keep data within Chinese borders. Even as foreign companies complain, Higashihara said Hitachi has no choice but to comply.

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