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SCIO briefing on making China a country of innovators and supporting the fostering of a new development paradigm

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The State Council Information Office held a press conference in Beijing on Feb. 26 to brief the media on issues around making China a country of innovators and supporting the fostering of a new development paradigm.

China.org.cnUpdated: March 3, 2021

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Wang Zhigang, minister of science and technology

Xu Jing, director-general of the Department of Strategy and Planning of the Ministry of Science and Technology

Xie Xin, director-general of the Department of Resource Allocation and Management of the Ministry of Science and Technology

Ye Yujiang, director-general of the Department of Basic Research of the Ministry of Science and Technology

Wu Yuanbin, director-general of the Department of Science and Technology for Social Development of the Ministry of Science and Technology


Chen Wenjun, head of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO


Feb. 26, 2021

Chen Wenjun:

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to the State Council Information Office (SCIO) press conference. Innovation is the primary driving force behind high-quality development and the strategic underpinning for the fostering of a new development paradigm. Today, we have invited Mr. Wang Zhigang, minister of science and technology, to brief you on issues around making China a country of innovators and supporting the fostering of a new development paradigm, and to answer some of your questions. We also have with us four directors-generals at the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST): Xu Jing, director-general of the Department of Strategy and Planning; Xie Xin, director-general of the Department of Resource Allocation and Management; Ye Yujiang, director-general of the Department of Basic Research; and Wu Yuanbin, director-general of the Department of Science and Technology for Social Development.

Next, I will give the floor to Mr. Wang.

Wang Zhigang:

Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the media, good afternoon. First, I would like to thank our friends from the media for your interest in and great support of the science and technology sector. I am glad to meet with you before the annual meetings of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) to exchange information on building China into a country of innovators.

At the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2017, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, clearly proposed making China a country of innovators. This is a requisite for building a modern country and a major task for implementing the new development concept and fostering a new development paradigm. During the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, it was proposed that we should adhere to the core position of innovation in China's overall modernization drive, and taking self-reliance in science and technology as the strategic support for national development. This provides important guidelines for making China a country of innovators in the new era. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), China made decisive achievements in building an innovation-driven country. Scientific and technological strength increased to a new level, reform of the science and technology system and governance were deepened, an enabling system for innovation was further developed, and the environment for innovation was improved. This provided strong support for economic development, improvements in people's livelihoods, and national security. Science and technology are playing an increasingly important role in implementing the new development concept and fostering a new development paradigm. It can be highlighted in the following six aspects.

First, we have systematically promoted basic research and achieved breakthroughs in core technologies in key areas. China's science and technology innovation capacity have increased significantly. For the first time, investment in basic research accounted for more than 6% of spending on research and development (R&D), including setting up 13 national applied mathematics centers. Original innovations have been developed in quantum information, iron-based superconductivity, stem cells, amid other areas. Progress has also been made in the R&D of high-speed railways, key components and basic software. Breakthroughs have been made in major scientific projects such as the Chang'e-5 (lunar probe) and Fendouzhe (deep-sea manned submersible). The development of national laboratories has been accelerated. The system of key national laboratories has been restructured. A group of national technological innovation centers were established, with enterprises as the main players.

Second, we have promoted the application of scientific and technological achievements in the development of the economy and society in an all-round manner, so as to foster "new growth drivers" for high-quality development. Remarkable development has taken place in key industries, led by major projects. Significant achievements have been made in mobile communications, new drug development and nuclear power. Technological support has been provided for major projects such as the large-scale application of 5G and the building of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. The Beidou navigation satellite network now provides global coverage. The application of new energy vehicles and artificial intelligence has been accelerated. The number of high-tech enterprises has exceeded 200,000. International science and technology innovation centers in Beijing, Shanghai and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, 21 national innovation demonstration zones, and 169 national new- and high-tech development zones have helped speed up the formation of new areas of growth, growth belts and growth poles. Science and technology have supported the defining victory in the battle against poverty. Technicians have been sent to all registered poverty-stricken villages to offer technological assistance and promote business start-ups as a means to create more jobs. In 2020, around 167,000 college graduates were employed as research assistants.

Third, we have increased the pool of qualified scientific and technological personnel. Talent development has been accelerated. The full-time equivalent of R&D personnel in China reached 4.8 million man-years. The national science and technology programs and key laboratories have bolstered support for young talented personnel. The number of scientific and technological leaders is increasing. A group of outstanding scientists have won important international awards such as the Fritz London Memorial Prize. A unified work permit and visa system for foreign talent has been adopted, and has handled nearly 650,000 work permits.

Fourth, we have deepened reforms of the science and technology system in key areas and formed a "new ecology" for innovation and entrepreneurship. The reform targets have been preliminarily achieved in the management of science and technology programs, the application of scientific and technological achievements, and the sharing of resources. We have adopted an open competition mechanism in the first batch of pilot projects to select the best candidates. A science and technology innovation board was launched at stock market to provide a channel for connecting technology, industry and finance. Efforts have been made to reduce the burden on scientific research personnel and change the current academic evaluation system in key areas that is over-reliant on published papers, academic titles, educational background and awards. We have implemented a series of documents on promoting integrity and ethics in scientific research, which has brought about positive changes.

Fifth, we have actively integrated into the global innovation network, and new advances have been made in scientific and technological cooperation. We have established innovation dialogue mechanisms with many countries, and conducted joint research with more than 50 countries and regions. We have fully participated in major international scientific projects such as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. Under the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan, we have supported more than 8,300 young foreign scientists to work in China and established 33 joint laboratories. We have smoothed the entire process to ensure the central government's scientific and technological research funding can be extended to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) and Macao SAR.

Sixth, we have acted swiftly and tackled the scientific and technological difficulties in emergent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, making China's new contributions while addressing common global challenges. We have mobilized a national scientific and technological system that focuses on areas of clinical treatment and medicines, vaccine research and development, test equipment, and reagents. We finished the genome sequencing of the COVID-19 virus in one week and developed and approved COVID-19 test kits in 14 days. Vaccine development via five technological approaches is being advanced simultaneously. Seven vaccines have been undergoing phase III clinical trials and four have been approved conditionally. Eleven medicines or treatments have been listed in the country's diagnosis and treatment scheme for COVID-19. The country has joined 10 WTO working groups and carried out scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation with American, European, Asian, African, Latin American, and the Caribbean countries during the fight against the pandemic, sharing the latest results and providing Chinese solutions.

These results did not come easily. They have been attributed to the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, as well as the sacrifice and hardworking of a great number of scientific researchers. Here, on behalf of the Ministry of Science and Technology, I would like to express the highest respect for and sincere gratitude to all those in scientific and technological fields, especially those scientists and researchers working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We should not only look back on our achievements but also have a clear understanding of what comes next. On one hand, the support of science and technology towards social and economic development is not enough, and some weak points still exist. To promote the country's social and economic development, improve civil affairs, and ensure national security, our demands for science and technology have never been as important and urgent as they are today. On the other hand, the outlook and space for scientific and technological development have no limits. Our understanding of the regularity of scientific and technological innovations and the pursuit of their diffusion and permeation is endless. We should work hard and further increase the all-round support and guidance of science and technology for the economy, industries, society, and security, and strive to contribute more Chinese power and results to the global scientific and technological development.

Those who dream big can succeed and those who embrace difficulties can progress. This year marks the beginning of the 14th Five-Year Plan Period (2021-2025). We will stick to the four principles of targeting the global science frontiers, serving the main economic battlefield, striving to fulfill the significant needs of the country and benefiting people's lives and health. We will strengthen strategic support for science and technology, adhere to self-reliance and self-improvement in science and technology, and give full play to its fundamental role in promoting high-quality development and in building the new development paradigm to achieve superior performance as a gift for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC. Now, I will take any questions you might have. Thank you.

Chen Wenjun:

Thank you, Mr. Wang. The floor is open for questions. Please identify your news outlet before asking your question. Thank you.

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