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Lawmakers Call on Gov't to Buy Domestic Products to Encourage Innovation
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The government should buy more domestic products to enhance the innovation capability of Chinese enterprises, said deputies to the National People's Congress, the top legislature.

"When the government purchases equipment for big projects, preference should be given to domestic enterprises for their future development," said Zhu Jian, deputy principal of Zhejiang University.

He cited an example of a 30-million-yuan (US$3.85 million) bidding in east China's Jiangxi Province for road construction last December, when equipment in the project was required to be "imported or produced by foreign-funded companies in China."

This case is not unique, said Nan Cunhui, CEO of Zhejiang-based Chint Group and also a lawmaker.

Nan noted that government procurement has a demonstrative role, which can boost people's recognition of a brand and spur the enterprise to press ahead.

The view of the two lawmakers is shared by some entrepreneurs outside the NPC.

"Medium-sized and small enterprises, which may boast advanced technology, are always shut out of the door of biddings which require a large amount of business assets," said Liu Changping, director of the research center of Hanwang Technology Co., Ltd.

Last year, China's total R&D investment reached 294.3 billion yuan (US$37.7 billion), 1.41 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). But the country is still lagged behind in terms of innovation capability.

Long Jiang, head of the Science and Technology Department of southwest China's Yunnan Province, said most of China's key technologies are borrowed from foreign countries. Among the patented techniques used in wireless transmission, mobile telecommunications and semiconductor, those from foreign countries account for as high as 93, 91 and 85 percent respectively.

Cheng Siwei, vice chairman of NPC Standing Committee, revealed earlier last year that science and technology contribute to only 30 percent of the economic development in China. Only 0.03 percent of domestic enterprises had their own intellectual property rights.

"Innovation is the only way to saving us from being the laborer of other countries," Cheng noted.

"Improvement of R&D capability is a strategic investment for the future," Long Jiang said.

Liu Wenchang with Hanwang believes that in his company where 20 percent of the 20 million yuan (US$2.56 million) annual R&D investment came from the government, money is not a big problem. One obstacle lies in shortage of talents.

"Education of talents is one of the key points," said NPC deputy Li Malin. "We should enact relevant policies and create a favorable environment for it."

In his government work report of 2007, Premier Wen Jiabao vowed to further increase the fund of innovation, improve the rewarding mechanism and government procurement system for innovation.

(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2007)

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