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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

Beijing Radio & Television Station: 

The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee proposed that China should uphold the central role of innovation in its modernization drive and make self-reliance and self-strengthening in science and technology the strategic underpinning for national development. How can we understand what self-reliance and self-strengthening in science and technology means, and what are the next steps you plan to take? How can we better understand the relationship between self-reliance and open cooperation in science and technology? Thank you. 

Wang Zhigang: 

Thank you for your questions. The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee stressed that China should uphold the central role of innovation in its modernization drive and make self-reliance and self-strengthening in science and technology the strategic underpinning for national development. This is a major strategic decision made by the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, with both current and long-term needs in mind. It is not a choice of expediency, but a consistent decision that must be adhered to on a long-term basis. Scientific and technological innovation has always played an important and irreplaceable role in the prosperity and development of any country and the progress of human civilization, and its role will become more prominent in the future. With the coming of the new era, China has bigger and more urgent requirements for scientific and technological development. In the next stage of development, a high level of sci-tech self-reliance and self-strengthening is the key to promoting high-quality development and fostering a new development paradigm. The core of self-reliance and self-strengthening in science and technology is to continuously improve the innovation capabilities in this regard. We must also make innovation the logical starting point for advancing our economic and industrial development. We must seek answers and solutions through innovation. We will continuously meet people's needs for a better life with sci-tech advancement, and enhance our industrial, economic and national strengths on a strong foundation of science and technology. By so doing, we will be able to make contributions to the world's scientific and technological development, responding to the common challenged of mankind, and build a community with a shared future for mankind.

The focus on how to achieve a high level of self-reliance and self-improvement is to highlight six areas:

First, we will focus on making breakthroughs in core and key technologies, and making up for technological shortcomings in key areas. We will deploy the innovation chain to match the industrial chain, and lay out the industrial chain around the innovation chain, so the two can complement each other and achieve rapid progress. We will apply new sciences and new technologies to spur the development of new industries and new economies. Efforts will be made to establish first-mover advantages and technological strengths in the frontiers of new scientific and technological development. This will ensure the security, stability, independence and controllability of the industrial chain and supply chain with innovation in science and technology.

Second, we are strengthening basic research and original innovation. We will enhance the ability to raise basic science questions in our production practice, and stimulate curiosity-driven basic research and application, and objective-oriented basic research. Mr. Ye has just talked about this issue. He said that asking good questions is far harder than finding answers, and that should be the key to basic research and scientific research. Therefore, we should attach great importance to worthwhile questions and our research orientations. This capacity allows us to start from basic research, and go forward to technological innovation and the industrialization of research results. It is why we say basic research is the master switch and fountainhead of scientific research. In addition, basic research produces not only technological research results, but scientific methods and new paradigms of scientific research. So, we say basic research should be strengthened in an all-dimensional and multi-layered manner. It is extremely important for us to build China into a science and technology giant. In the meantime, as China is entering a new development stage, we need to build a greater capacity for independent development and high-level development, and we should even be leading the world in certain areas. This will not only provide strong support and a solid foundation for China's economic and social development, but ensure the country can make more scientific and technological contributions to the international community.

Third, we are enhancing strategic scientific and technological strength. Efforts will be made to accelerate the development of national laboratories; restructure the system of key national laboratories; and give full play to the main forces for science and technology innovation, including universities, scientific research institutes, and enterprises, so as to foster a number of regional pacesetters for innovation with international competitiveness.

Fourth, we will strive to improve the technological innovation capabilities of enterprises, support them to take the lead in forming innovation alliances, undertake major national science and technology projects, promote integration and innovation of large-, medium- and small-sized enterprises, and implement more preferential policies for enterprises to invest in basic research.

Fifth, we will focus on stimulating the innovative vitality of talents, train and introduce good talents in all aspects, cultivate more world-leading talents and teams, and train a reserve army of young talents who are internationally competitive.

Sixth, we will promote reform of the science and technology system and mechanism; accelerate the transformation of government functions; promote the overall allocation of projects, bases, talents and funds in key areas; reform the evaluation and incentive mechanism; and promote ethical standards and improve academic practice in the science and technology field. Enhancing ethical standards and academic integrity is essential to scientific research — without ethics and integrity, the foundation of scientific research will not be firm. Therefore, at this point, we need to give full trust and strong incentives, and at the same time, we should also have restrictive measures.

With regards to scientific and technological self-reliance and open cooperation, they are not contradictory, but in a dialectical unity. Open cooperation is indispensable in pursuing the path of independent innovation with Chinese characteristics. We need to be self-reliant so that we can develop open cooperation in science and technology with equality and mutual respect. Without such a foundation and precondition, open cooperation will not prosper in reality. Furthermore, open cooperation provides mutual benefits and win-win results. In opening-up to the outside world, China has always put science and technology at the forefront. We have continued to contribute to global scientific and technological progress and socio-economic development, while at the same time, we have benefited greatly from international scientific and technological cooperation. At present, China's scientific and technological innovation and development are increasingly inseparable from the world’s, while global scientific and technological progress also increasingly needs China. Looking to the future, China will implement an international science and technology cooperation strategy that is more open, inclusive and mutually beneficial. China's desire to promote open cooperation in science and technology will be stronger. The door will be opened wider and greater steps forward will be taken. We are willing to work with countries around the world to actively carry out dialogues, exchanges and in-depth cooperation on science, technology and innovation. For example, first, in fields related to sustainable development — such as climate change, energy, resources and public health — we should establish global scientific research funds, actively contribute Chinese wisdom and jointly respond to global challenges. Second, in the prevention and control of major infectious diseases and in the public health sector, we should create scientific and technological cooperation mechanisms and promote more practical cooperation. As I said in my opening remarks, when the epidemic was at its most serious in China, an important part of our work fighting the epidemic was to carry out scientific research and share our experiences with other countries. Third, we need to work with other countries to promote scientific research and technological innovation that concerns the well-being of mankind. We need to jointly condense scientific issues and support scientists from all countries to cooperate in scientific research activities. We should also jointly promote achievements in scientific and technological cooperation to serve the development of all countries and the well-being of the people, so as to fulfill the mission of scientific and technological innovation in building a community with a shared future for mankind.

As the host said, this was the last question. I would like to again express my gratitude to friends from the media. I hope you will continue to follow, study and support scientific and technological innovation and development, and provide a better environment and more positive energy. Thank you, everyone.

Chen Wenjun:

Thank you, Minister Wang. Thanks to our speakers, and thank you all for participating in today's press conference. Happy Lantern Festival! 


Translated and edited by Wang Yiming, Chen Xia, Fan Junmei, Li Huiru, Zhang Jiaqi, Zhou Jing, Xu Xiaoxuan, Zhang Tingting, Liu Qiang, Yan Xiaoqing, Guo Yiming, Wang Qian, Zhang Rui, Wang Wei, Liu Jianing, Yuan Fang, Zhu Bochen, Zhang Junmian, David Ball, Jay Birbeck, and Tom Arnstein. In case of any discrepancy between the English and Chinese texts, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

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