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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


General Secretary Xi Jinping stressed that talent is the fundamental source of national scientific and technological innovation. I noticed that China has done lots of work to reform the science and technology evaluation system and inspire enthusiasm for innovation. You just mentioned that great progress had been made in reducing the burden of professionals in the sector and reforming the former evaluation standards. Can you add further detail for us? Also, what kinds of reforms will be introduced during the 14th Five-Year-Plan period? Thank you.

Wang Zhigang:

Thanks for your question. Innovation-driven development is essentially talent-driven development. Talent plays a decisive role in our push for innovation-driven growth and development in science and technology. It is also the principal part of various types of research. That's why we consider talent the most important factor. In recent years, we have put researchers first, relied on scientific and technological personnel, and served key players in innovation, such as universities, research institutions and enterprises. Specifically, we have built a talent policy system based on trust, with equal emphasis on incentives and constraints. We have also been carrying out classified evaluation. We value the effectiveness of tackling major problems in economic and social development and sci-tech progress, and also advocating for a type of peer review under which the judges know the project well. We will continue to focus on the ability, quality, effectiveness and contribution of scientific researchers; resolutely reverse the undesirable tendency of only placing importance on published theses, titles, educational background and awards; make efforts to reduce the burden of scientific researchers; create a good academic ecology; and motivate more scientific researchers to devote themselves to scientific research and carry out scientific research with dedication. We have built a diversified science and technology ecology and provided customized services for researchers in accordance with the different rules and characteristics of basic research, applied basic research, technological innovation, and the commercialization of scientific and research findings. At the same time, we have been actively advancing classified evaluation, with General Secretary Xi Jinping's requirements as the standard. He has said that scientific and technological development must target the global frontiers of science, serve the main economic battlefield, strive to fulfill the significant needs of the country and benefit people's lives and health.

First, we have been fighting against the four wrongful practices in evaluation mentioned above. We are against using published theses as the only evaluation standard. Theses themselves are good things and research needs to be published when there are new findings. However, if they are treated as the sole standard, we have the opposite problem. So, while we don't want published research to be the only standard, we still encourage young people to write papers when they start their research. It's a good thing if they are capable of delivering papers. Scientists of high caliber should produce high-quality theses, but they must be their own findings.

Second, we are breaking the practice of simply linking the titles of scientific and technological talents to the evaluation results. Many top scientists are academicians or professors. Yet when they started their research years ago, they had no such titles. We have to rely on the youth to advance the development of China's science and technology and that of mankind. It will constrain emerging talent if we only place importance on titles. We have to value them for their scientific research and findings, and not just their titles.

Third, we have been reducing the burden on researchers, enabling them to focus on scientific research. The government needs to serve them, rather than interrupt them. We have simplified planning schedules, streamlined reimbursement for expenses, reduced planning inspections, and promoted the sharing of information. Generally speaking, all these reform measures have truly reduced the burden on researchers and provided a targeted service for them. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of related departments, the reform of the talent system and evaluation work has seen sound development, and researchers now have an enhanced sense of gain. Surveys from our ministry and the media last year all showed that the seven burden-reducing programs launched by the MOST have been well-received among researchers, and ranked in the forefront in terms of how well they were reflected among the various reforms.

In the future, we will follow the deployments of the fifth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee and continuously deepen reform which is for professionals in the science and technology sector and relies on them. The MOST will hear opinions, suggestions, and complaints from researchers both regularly and irregularly through symposiums or surveys, and take appropriate measures to maximize their sense of gain. The creativity of talents will then be further stimulated, and the building of a talent evaluation system complying with rules of sci-tech development and talent cultivation will be sped up on the basis of diverging from wrongful practices. We will develop our work style and study style in the science and technology field, strengthen our overall planning and synergize sci-tech work with education. We will also refine the income distribution policy designed to increase knowledge value, reinforce the cultivation of young sci-tech personnel, and build up more world-class innovative teams and leading talents so as to enhance the talent basis for sci-tech self-reliance. Thank you.

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