CGTN: China aims to become an innovation powerhouse


From the compass, papermaking, printing and gunpowder – the four great inventions of ancient China – to manned submersible Jiaolong, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the Mars probe Tianwen-1, China has always embraced the creative spirit and innovative vitality of its people.

“Innovation is the soul driving a nation’s progress and an inexhaustible source of a country’s prosperity. It is also an essential part of the Chinese national character,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a discussion with a group of outstanding young people from all walks of life on May 4, 2013.

He added that this is what an ancient saying meant: “If you can in one day renew yourself, do so day after day. Then there will be daily renewal.”

Innovation boom

Over the past few years, China has made significant moves to bolster its innovative capacity, with its strengths in science and technology steadily improving in terms of major indicators.

China ranked 14th among more than 100 economies worldwide in a benchmark innovation ranking in 2020, and is the only middle-income economy included in the top 30 for seven years, according to the index released by the World Intellectual Property Organization last September.

China has established itself as an innovation leader, with high ranks in important metrics including patents, utility models, trademarks, industrial designs, and creative goods exports,” a press release from the index said.

The central government’s funding for basic research has doubled over the past five years, and the funding is estimated at 6.16 percent of its total research and development (R&D) expenditure in 2020, according to Wang Zhigang, minister of science and technology.

The contribution rate of scientific and technological progress to economic growth is expected to reach 60 percent in 2020, according to an official projection by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Several notable high-tech achievements have been made in recent years. The Chang’e-5 probe brought back the country’s first samples collected from the moon, while China’s first Mars rover started exploring the red planet.

The country is moving fast to develop its large passenger aircraft and magnetic-levitation train, while industries related to digital economy, 5G, artificial intelligence, and electric vehicles are thriving.

To be a leading innovator with self-reliance

According to China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, innovation should be taken as the core of China’s modernization drive, and self-reliance and self-improvement in science and technology should be given top priority as a strategic support role.

In the face of intense international competition, and against the backdrop of growing unilateralism and protectionism, President Xi stressed self-reliance and self-strengthening in the country’s science and technology development at a meeting on May 28.

Xi urged China’s sci-tech professionals to assume the responsibilities of the times and strive for sci-tech self-reliance and self-strengthening at higher levels.

Sci-tech breakthroughs should tackle the most pressing issues with a focus on meeting the country’s needs, both urgent and long-term ones, Xi said.

As China transforms from the world factory to a globe innovator, the 14th Five-Year Plan states that the following areas will be the country’s focus for the next five to 15 years, including artificial intelligence, quantum information, integrated circuit, life and health, brain science, bio-breeding, aerospace, and deep-earth and deep-sea explorations.

China will invest more in basic research during the 14th Five-Year Plan Period, with funding expected to reach over 8 percent of all R&D expenditure, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology.

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