BEIJING: China has maintained its position as the world’s largest manufacturing hub for 12 straight years, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on Monday. The value-added output of the manufacturing sector in 2021 increased 9.8 percent year on year to 31.4 trillion yuan (about 4.97 trillion U.S. dollars), accounting for 27.4 percent of the country’s GDP, MIIT Minister Xiao Yaqing told a press conference. Specifically, the output of the high-tech manufacturing industry went up 18.2 percent year on year, while that of equipment manufacturing increased 12.9 percent, while digitalization and green development of the sector also picked up paces, Xiao said. Meanwhile, China now has more than 4,700 national-level “little giant” firms, or small enterprises that are still in the early stage of development and focus on the new generations of information technology, high-end equipment manufacturing, new energy, new materials, biomedicine and other high-end fields. In terms of 5G development, the country has built a total of 1.43 million 5G base stations by the end of last year, with the number of mobile terminals connected to the network exceeding 520 million, Xiao said. The ministry will further stimulate investment in the manufacturing sector, encourage enterprises to level up their manufacturing technologies and speed up the establishment of 5G services and gigabit fiber-optic networks, said the minister.