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China Urges Scientific and Technological Innovation

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China held the 18th meeting of the national leading group on reform of the scientific and technological system and building of an innovation system in Beijing. China’s economic and social development requires great and urgent efforts in scientific and technological innovation due to profound changes in both domestic and international environments

Stressing the core position of innovation in China’s modernisation drive, they called for a thorough understanding of the key role of scientific and technological innovation in high-quality development and the new development paradigm. Member units of the group and related departments should take solid steps in advancing scientific and technological innovation over the next five years to help China become a leading innovation-driven nation and embark on a new journey toward a modern socialist country.

In compiling the national scientific and technological innovation plan for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period, it was determined that attention should be paid to shoring up weak links and strengthening the foundation within a good strategic blueprint. According to an article, the 14th Five-Year Plan elevates innovation and technology development to core national priorities and critical to achieving technological self-reliance. This marks a significant shift in priorities towards industrial and national security, as well as reduced reliance on imported technologies.

Investment in technology will go into overdrive and will undoubtedly focus on frontier fields that have already been highlighted for further exploration: artificial intelligence, quantum information, integrated circuits, life and health science, neuroscience, genetics, deep earth and sea exploration, and aerospace technology. There also will be measures to encourage traditional sectors to move up the value chain; strengthening improved farming quality and competitiveness; as well as a greater emphasis on protecting intellectual property rights and talent attraction.

Technology and innovation have become the driving forces. As an emerging tech giant, China has demonstrated it can be a leading innovator both globally and domestically. China is leading the development of new industries built around digitalisation, artificial intelligence, big data, fifth-generation telecommunications networking (5G), nanotechnology, biotechnology, robotics, and quantum computing.

China is also leading new types of businesses such as electric vehicles, e-commerce and payment systems and new business models including new digital business-to-consumer (B2C) business-to-business (B2B) applications and channels. It is fast becoming a global hub for accelerated innovation, not just for Chinese companies but for foreign firms wanting to leverage its pool of research talent, cost-effective and flexible R&D capacity, and manufacturing ecosystem to efficiently commercialise concepts and designs into products.

On the other hand, security and privacy risks abound; competing visions of digital sovereignty are impacting supply chains, currency usage and cross border financial flows; and the formation of divergent regulatory regimes is presenting barriers to companies’ ability to transfer data across borders and develop globally integrated digital solutions. The challenge ahead for all nations will be to reach a level of understanding and create a common international framework to manage these emerging risks and allow these new technologies and innovations to evolve and be utilised for the benefit of all. The consequences of not doing so could lead to the crippling of global value chains, economies of scale and innovation systems.

Science and technology development should keep up with leading global trends, it was felt. It needs to serve as the main engine of economic competition, the needs of the country, and benefit people’s health and livelihoods. These goals will be realised through the in-depth implementation of the strategies of rejuvenating the nation through science and education, cultivating talent, and promoting innovation-driven development. This will enable China to improve its innovation capabilities and speed up its transformation into a scientific and technological power.

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