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From driverless cars to robotic warehouses, China looks to automation to solve population issues

Mount Equity Group Tokyo, Japan > News > Tech > From driverless cars to robotic warehouses, China looks to automation to solve population issues

GUANGZHOU, China — Qin Jiahao has been working at Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com’s logistics operations for around six years. Now a huge amount of his work has become automated.

“In the past, almost all the work is manual. After automation, nearly half of our workers’ job is done by machine. It reduces our work intensity,” Qin told CNBC.

“In the past, I was responsible for collecting goods and putting them on shelves … Now, after the goods get here, the automation equipment will put goods at a designated place, and then put them on shelves. This whole process is done by automation.”

Walking around JD.com’s 500,000 square meter logistics park in Dongguan, south China, you will see huge machines helping to automate tasks like packing and shelving.

Qin’s situation highlights a broader trend in China — the push toward automating jobs. The labor market in the world’s second-largest economy faces some big challenges, including an aging population and rising wages.  

“It’s still rapidly evolving that aging population is a reality … China’s now facing the challenge of potentially getting old before it gets rich,” Jonathan Woetzel, senior partner at McKinsey, told CNBC.

An automated machine stacks packages at Chinese e-commerce giant JD.com’s huge logistics center in Dongguan, China.Arjun Kharpal | CNBC

China’s working age population shrunk by more than 5 million people in the