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Science and Technology Takes Centre Stage in China

With all the momentum the country has gathered in last year’s focus on digital adoption, China is once again putting technology at the top of its list. Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology (MOST), affirmed that science and technology will be a priority this year. That would translate to the full implementation of reforms and policies related to the two ever-widening fields of innovation.

Enhancing basic research, developing technologies that can support China’s socioeconomic growth, training top-notch talent and improving the country’s overall innovation environment are key goals of the reforms.

– Wang Zhigang, Minister of Science and Technology

The minister made the pronouncements in view of the “Two Sessions” also called Lianghui, an annual meeting of China’s key regional and national leaders. As expected, ICT became a key topic in this year’s joint session. For one, discussion on the metaverse, an emerging technology, was explored with many city leaders taking up steps to incorporate the technology into their local economies. An example is Shanghai, China’s richest city, which deployed the metaverse to recruit international tech talent.

Moreover, the national political advisers made the government’s intentions clear. They expounded that Chinese science workers will:

  • march in solidarity to forge new grounds in basic sciences
  • support the implementation of science-related reforms and policies
  • create innovations to meet the nation’s strategic needs

The country’s leaders are aware of the role they need to play for technology to progress. According to the Government Work Report released at the fifth session of the 13th National People’s Congress, China will enhance its capacity for scientific and technological innovation with action plans to support basic research and institutional reforms.

More specifically, China will press ahead with a 10-year action plan on basic research to ensure stable long-term support. Also, a three-year action plan for reforming the national science and technology management system will be enacted.

Meanwhile, China will continue to engage in international scientific and technological cooperation. This means the country will enhance efforts to build talent centres and innovation hubs of global importance.

Knowing that manpower is key to this endeavour, China is willing to encourage its manpower to take up technology as a career path. To make this happen, Beijing will improve institutions and mechanisms for talent development, provide more support to young researchers, and encourage outstanding people to devote themselves to research and realise their full potential, the report said.

Plus, the country is willing to finance it all. In the draft government budget for this year framed by the Ministry of Finance, promoting scientific and technological innovation to pursue higher-quality industrial development will be one of the main expenditures.

In the 2022 draft plan for national economic and social development released by the National Development and Reform Commission, faster breakthroughs in core technologies will be a top priority:

  • Biomedicines
  • High-end instruments
  • Green and low carbon energy transformation
  • Basic software

In addition, China is looking at possible locations to put up research hubs and national laboratories. Top of the list is Beijing, Shanghai and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the plan said.

It looks like China’s already-fast digital transformation is bound to go even faster. The results should speak for themselves. Just recently, a companion robot that can “read thoughts” was presented. Without giving it verbal commands, the artificial intelligence-embedded creation provides support to factory workers. It’s still a work in progress though.

China’s showing in the Beijing Winter Olympics revealed how much digitisation can help provide better service. With Artificial Intelligence (AI), for instance, talking to people from different countries and with different tongues became simplified as reported on OpenGov Asia.

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