Shanghai Science and Technology Museum
Date - May 30, 2016
To push for the nation's economic transition and industrial upgrading, Chinese leaders pledged on Monday greater commitment to the research and application of science and technology.
In a show of unprecedented importance, both President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang addressed an event combining three top-level science conferences attended by 4,000 scientists and science officials.
Xi said the central government's commitment is aimed at making China a leading power in science and technology by the middle of the century, or around the 100th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.
Xi stressed the role of science and technology as a bedrock that "the country relies on for its power, enterprises rely on for victories, and people rely on for a better life".
"Great scientific and technological capacity is a must for China to be strong and for people's lives to improve," he said, calling for new ideas, designs and strategies in science and technology.
Premier Li told the event that China's overall research and development input will keep rising to account for 2.5 percent of its GDP in 2020, from the current 2.1 percent.
Wang Zhigang, vice-minister of science and technology, said innovation is the focus of global competition and is also crucial for China to achieve sustainable development.
Zhu Baoliang, a specialist in economic forecasting with the National Information Center, said China cannot continue to rely on human input for growth considering such demographic challenges as a rapidly aging society and a looming labor shortage.
In the past 30 years, about 30 percent of China's economic growth has been obtained from innovations, Zhu said.
By contrast, developed countries derive 70 percent of their growth from innovations.
He called for more policy reforms to provide incentives for the talent needed in research and innovation.
Chen Saijuan, dean of the National Key Laboratory of Medical Genetics, said she was inspired by President Xi's pledge for a better administrative and budgetary management system to serve Chinese scientists.
"That will bring about greater benefit to the public as well," she said.
Jiang Haomin, chief researcher of Baosteel Group Corp, welcomed President Xi's promise that scientists may own shares, stock options and dividends.
This is the way to enable science and the economy to work more closely with each other, Jiang said.
Chen Baoming, director of the Institute of Comprehensive Development of the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology, said all nine fields of research listed in the Outline of the National Strategy of Innovation-Driven Development, released on May 23 by the Ministry of Science and Technology, are the areas likely to yield new achievements and breakthroughs.
For example, he said, without the right technology, China would have difficulty maintaining security in food supplies and ecological balance.
Without the next-generation information technologies, China would not have been able to tap the full potential of its enormous domestic market, he added.
In renewable energies, China has already made an impressive start. But only with more key innovations can it develop a solid market advantage, Chen said.
The three top-level conferences are the national conference on science and technology, the biennial conference of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and the national congress of the China Association for Science and Technology, a nongovernmental organization of scientists. The conference of the two academies will last until Friday.