Missing a point

A ballpoint pen

It has sent rockets into space, constructed millions of a world’s smartphones and built high-speed trains. But until now, one bit of prolongation had maybe suddenly eluded China: a ballpoint pen.

A year ago Premier Li Keqiang went on inhabitant radio and bemoaned a disaster of his nation to furnish a good peculiarity chronicle of this seemingly-simple implement.

Locally-made versions felt “rough” compared to those from Germany, Switzerland and Japan, Mr Li complained.

High precision

The problem was not a physique of a pen, though a tip – a little round that dispenses ink as we write.

It competence be something we take for granted, though creation them requires high-precision machine and really hard, ultra-thin steel plates.

Put simply, China’s steel has not been good enough. And it has struggled to figure a coop tips accurately.

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Image caption

Li Keqiang has hold a few pens in his time as Chinese Premier

Without that ability, China’s 3,000 penmakers have had to import this essential member from abroad, costing a attention a reported 120m yuan ($17.3m; £14.3m) a year.

But according to People’s Daily, a state-owned Taiyuan Iron and Steel Co thinks it has burst a problem, after 5 years of research.

The initial collection of 2.3-millimetre ballpoint coop tips has recently rolled off a prolongation lines, a paper says.

And once lab tests are completed, it’s approaching China could proviso out coop tip imports totally within dual years.


On one level, either China can make a good coop is not hugely critical in a intrigue of things.

High-tech and innovative prolongation distortion during a heart of a executive government’s Made in China 2025 programme – designed to assistance domestic growth.

Relatively low-value items, like ballpoint pens, have not been a priority.

But a pen-conundrum is a mystic one.

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Getty Images

Image caption

European firms have dominated a ballpoint coop attention during both a tip and reduce ends of a market

Despite producing some-more than half of a world’s wanton iron and steel, China has still heavily relied on imports for high-grade steel.

It was a unwell that Mr Li pronounced highlighted a need to ascent China’s prolongation capabilities.

Different culture

“Historically, China has never been means to do pointing engineering really good and a ballpoint coop is an instance of that,” says Professor George Huang, conduct of a University of Hong Kong’s dialect of industrial and automatic engineering.

“Its tools are so tiny and really precise, and it’s not easy to solve this problem”

Precision engineering is abounding customarily in certain sectors such as aerospace and counterclaim where a supervision has placed a high priority, says Prof Huang.

Even when it comes to smartphones and computers, a high finish mechanism chips are customarily alien from Japan and Taiwan.

Prof Huang says that China lacks a enlightenment of value in pointing engineering.

He uses a Mandarin tenure “fuzao” that describes something that is not 100% plain or reliable.

“The enlightenment is opposite from a Japanese and Germans,” he says, who are famous for creation in engineering.

“We Chinese are ostensible to be craftsmen, though somehow a suggestion is not as good.”

Additional stating by a BBC’s Tessa Wong.

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