SCIO briefing on China's strategy of promoting innovation-driven development and efforts to build China into an innovation-oriented country

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Third, we have stepped up the building and sharing of major science and technology infrastructure. We have deployed and built a number of major science and technology infrastructures, including the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST) and the China Spallation Neutron Source (CSNS). We have established 20 national scientific data centers, 31 national biological germplasm and experimental material resource banks, and 98 national field scientific observation and research stations to promote the open sharing of scientific research facilities and instruments. More than 4,000 institutes, 101,000 sets of large-scale scientific instruments and 80 major scientific research infrastructures have been incorporated into the open and shared network.

Going forward, we will put basic research and application-oriented basic research higher on the agenda of China's science and technology work. At the same time, we will reform and improve the mechanism for project development. The ability to accurately raise and describe questions is essential to basic research. We will explore ways to create a mechanism for discovering issues which aim for the frontiers of science and technology. We will establish a mechanism for managing and supporting non-consensus projects and disruptive technologies. We will further increase investment in basic research, optimize the investment structure, and strengthen long-term support for unpopular disciplines, basic disciplines and interdisciplinary work. In this way, we aim to offer better services to scientists and researchers dedicated to their work, and to support them in breaking new ground. Thank you.


Many documents and measures have been introduced in recent years to reform the management system for science and technology. What progress has been made? What steps will be taken to further reform and improve the environment for scientific and technological innovation?

Wang Zhigang:

Thank you for your question. As General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized, to promote the development of science and technology, we should strive for both scientific and technological innovation and institutional innovation. Reform and innovation are closely connected with each other. Reform is targeted at production relations, and innovation at productive forces. Productive forces determine production relations. Production relations should comply with productive forces and can play an active role in their development. We have been implementing a series of important thoughts on scientific and technological innovation set forth by General Secretary Xi since the 18th CPC National Congress held in 2012. We have been coordinating our work on reform and innovation to spur innovation through reform and promoting development through innovation. The Outlines on National Strategy for Innovation Driven Development and an action plan to deepen the reform of the management system for science and technology have been issued, and the latter introduced a total of 143 specific measures. 

We have been adhering to the principle that the scientific and technological development must target the frontiers of global science, serve the economic battlefield, strive to fulfill the significant needs of our country and benefit people's lives and health. With the goal of building a systematic, complete and efficient national innovation system, we have adopted a coordinated and systemized approach to plan and promote the development of science and technology initiatives. Science and technology have become an established force at the center of our national development. 

Focusing on tapping into the enthusiasm and innovative potential among researchers and innovators, we have been working to optimize the allocation of scientific and technological resources, improve the governance system on scientific and technological innovation, and create a favorable climate for innovation, to push for the reform on the management system for science and technology on all fronts. Significant progress has been made in reform in key areas. A complete implementation system integrating laws, policies, measures and action has been established. The potential of science and technology as the primary forces of production has been further unleashed, so has that of innovation as the primary driving force, and talent as the primary resource.

The following is the major progress we have achieved so far. First, to fulfill urgent strategic national needs, we've improved institutions and organizational systems for advancing scientific breakthroughs and emergency-related research. We strived to build up China's strategic capacity in science and technology by building national laboratories for major fields of innovation and restructuring the system of key national laboratories to meet the demand for scientific R&D concerning major national programs. We organized elite scientists and researchers drawn from all over the country to pursue scientific and technological breakthroughs inCOVID-19 prevention and control. We made result-oriented efforts, aimed for appropriate applications, and combined scientific research with clinical treatment. As a result, we achieved a group of practical and effective outcomes in such fields as drug, vaccine and testing, thus contributing to an overall victory in the battle against the virus.

Second, we worked to see that science and technology become more deeply embedded in the economy and promoted the transfer and commercialization of scientific and technological achievements. The Law on Promoting the Application of Scientific and Technological Advances was amended, and quite a few related policies and regulations were introduced. The right to use, transfer and profit from scientific and technological achievements was delegated, and scientific researchers were granted ownership right and the right to long-term use of the scientific and technological achievements made at their posts. Work began to establish a national technology transfer system and demonstration zones for the transfer and commercialization of scientific and technological achievements. In 2019, there were more than 1,000 technology trading markets in China. For the first time, the total value of contracted technology transactions reached 2trillion yuan, 3.5 times that of 2012. New platforms were set up to strengthen financial support for technological innovation. The Shanghai Stock Exchange launched a sci-tech innovation board, with a registration system being piloted for the listing of companies.185 companies have been listed on the sci-tech innovation board, with a total market value of more than 3 trillion yuan. Basically, all those listed companies are high-tech companies.

Third, we stepped up efforts to develop synergy among industries, universities and research institutes, and to energize various kinds of innovators. We encouraged enterprises to undertake major national scientific and technological programs. More than 75% of key national research and development programs now involve the participation of enterprises. We offered incentives for enterprises to increase investment in R&D, such as raising the portion of spending on R&D by enterprises that are eligible for tax deductions from 150% to 175%. Reforms to streamline administration, delegate powers, improve regulation, and upgrade services continued apace. We helped 44 universities and institutes launch a pilot scheme of increasing autonomy in their research activities, which has produced positive effects. A group of market-oriented research institutions with flexible mechanisms has been established. We made strong moves to encourage scientific and technological innovation and entrepreneurship, such as improving maker spaces, incubators and start-up accelerators.

Fourth, we continued to adopt both incentives and constraints in order to create a favorable climate for innovation. We improved a system for category-based management of scientific and technological personnel which complies with the law of their research activities. We don't resort to administrative staff management measures when handling cases in which scientific and technological personnel go abroad, do part-time jobs or start a business after resignation. Profit distribution policies were improved with the goal of strengthening the value ascribed to knowledge. The assessment system for scientific research was reformed and upgraded. Strong measures were rolled out to get rid of the practice of viewing essays, professional titles, educational backgrounds and awards as overwhelming criteria. We implemented seven initiatives to reduce the bureaucratic burden on scientific researchers. We made efforts to address issues of greatest concern to scientific researchers, including too many forms to fill in, onerous reimbursement procedures and too many inspections to undergo. We reformed and improved the academician selection and management system. We urged action to improve conduct and promote a good style of study among the personnel working in the science community. We promoted integrity and improved joint punishment mechanisms. Many cases, including those related to the retraction of multiple articles in Tumor Biology and genetically-edited babies, were severely punished or prosecuted, with relevant information open to the public in a timely manner. We bear zero tolerance toward research misconduct.

Fifth, we deepened the central fiscal management reform for national science and technology initiatives to improve the allocation efficiency of science and technology resources. We integrated nearly 100 science and technology projects originally undertaken by different departments to make resource allocation more centralized and efficient. We finished building an open and unified national science and technology management platform and entrusted the management of research programs to specialized agencies. We reformed project and economic management, streamlined the compilation of budgets, and increased the proportion of indirect costs. We launched a pilot scheme of lump-sum project-funding at the National Natural Science Foundation. Scientific and technological leaders were granted greater autonomy in the utilization of human, financial and property resources to better serve their creativity.

Meanwhile, we should be aware that much remains to be done regarding the reform of the management system for science and technology, and we need to surmount more difficulties in removing deep-rooted institutional barriers. General Secretary Xi stressed that reform is an on-going process with no end point. We will continue to deepen the reform to ensure that relevant decisions and plans are carried out without fail and areas of weakness are improved. We will further optimize the system for scientific and technological innovation and systematically build up China's strategic capacity in science and technology. We will strive to develop a new type of national system for breakthroughs in core technologies under the conditions of the socialist market economy. We will continue to foster favorable policy, legal, social and cultural environments. Through all these efforts, we aim to provide comprehensive institutional guarantees for building China into a global leader in innovation and allow the country to become a science and technology giant. Thank you.

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