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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Guangming Daily:

What is the latest development on the technology front in response to the COVID-19pandemic? Please brief us on this issue. Thank you.

Wu Yuanbin:

Thank you for your question. Since the COVID-19pandemic, China's science and technology community has resolutely implemented the decisions and deployments of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council and set up scientific research teams led by the Ministry of Science and Technology, focusing on five major fields including etiology, detection technology and products, clinical treatment and drugs, vaccine research and development, and animal models. In accordance with the "traceable, diagnosable, curable, preventable, and controllable" prevention and control requirement, we brought together the country's top researchers to conduct scientific research, which yielded positive results. We isolated and identified the pathogen and shared the coronavirus genome sequence with the world, laying a foundation for other countries to carry out coronavirus research, diagnostic reagent development, drug screening, and vaccine development. Within 14 days after the release of the coronavirus genome sequence, we completed the research and development of nucleic acid detection reagents and quickly put it into use. In addition, we have continued to improve the performance of nucleic acid detection products. At present, our testing reagents can meet the testing needs of current epidemic prevention and control under different scenarios.

During the epidemic prevention and control period, we quickly screened various drugs and therapies and put into use effective drugs and therapeutics, including chloroquine phosphate, traditional Chinese medicine, convalescent plasma treatment, and stem cell therapy. We have kept improving the diagnosis and treatment plan to increase the cure rate and reduce the mortality rate. In terms of the COVID-19 vaccines, we have been promoting the research and development of safe and effective vaccines in a scientific and orderly manner. At present, 13 Chinese COVID-19 vaccine candidates in five categories have entered the stage of human trials; four of them have started phase-3 clinical trials. China now has the largest number of vaccine candidates that have been approved for clinical trials, leading the world in this field.

During the epidemic prevention and control period, we have also done other fundamental researches, including developing a variety of COVID-19animal models, which provided key technical support for identifying the pathogenesis and transmission pattern and promoting drugs and vaccines development from laboratory tests to human clinical trials. Under the correct leadership of the CPC Central Committee, the Chinese science and technology community has been dedicated to the fight against COVID-19and made these hard-won gains. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, the Ministry of Science and Technology has placed technological development that is related to people's livelihood in a more important position, formulated special scientific and technological plans, and fostered innovation in the field of life and health. We have invested more in areas such as prevention and control of major diseases, reproductive health, food safety, and environmental improvement, and enhanced the innovation capabilities in these aspects. All achievements we've made can be attributed to the above efforts. Thank you.

China Education Television:

General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized that great scientific and technological capacity is a must for China to improve its competitiveness on all fronts. What are the major developments of China's technological innovation capabilities during the 13th Five-Year Plan period? In particular, what progress has been made in the cultivation of high-end talents and the construction of innovation platforms and bases? Thank you.

Xu Jing:

Thank you. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, China's scientific and technological innovation capabilities have achieved historical, holistic and structural development. Quantitative changes lead to a qualitative leap. With one technological breakthrough after another, China has improved its overall technological innovation capabilities. I will illustrate it with the following four aspects.

The scientific and technological talent teams have been optimized. Talents are primary resources. During the13th Five-Year Plan period, China's total full-time equivalent R&D personnel has increased by 1 million. The number of full-time equivalent R&D personnel per 10,000 employees increased from 48.5in 2015 to 62 in 2019. Fully implementing the national plan for cultivating scientific and technological professionals, we have set up high-level innovation talent teams and helped them hone abilities by undertaking major scientific and technological tasks. We have strengthened the training of young professionals and set up projects for scientists under 35 to carry out. The talent structure has been optimized, and a group of top scientific and technological professionals have made their presence felt in the world. According to data from international organizations, China (including Hong Kong and Macao) has seen 735 researchers named the world's Highly Cited Researchers in 2019, an increase of 3.4 times compared to 168 in 2015. The influence of scientific research results in the international community has grown significantly. The number of highly cited papers in 2019 was 30,755, doubling the number in2015, accounting for 20% of the world's highly cited papers and ranking second in the world. Many outstanding scientists have won international awards, such as the Vega Medal in honor of achievements in geography, the Fritz London Memorial Prize in physics, and the Arthur C. Cope Scholar Awards in chemistry.

Second, we have accelerated the construction of innovation bases and platforms, such as national laboratories and state key laboratories. The construction of major scientific infrastructure has been steadily advanced, providing a good foundation for scientific research.

Thirdly, the status of enterprises as the mainstay of innovation has been strengthened. Enterprises are the most critical players in China's technological innovation. In 2019, 507 Chinese companies were put on the shortlist for Research and Development Investment of Top 2500 Companies Around the World. These 507 companies' business scopes are mainly in modern high-tech fields, such as drones, e-commerce, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and mobile communications. The number of high-tech companies reached 225,000 in 2019, an increase of 1.8 times from2015. The innovation capability of enterprises continues to increase. China's PCT patent applications had increased from 30,000 in 2015 to 59,000 in 2019, ranking first in the world. The combination of technology and finance facilitates the development of enterprises. In the past five years, technology and finance have developed rapidly, and the multi-level capital market has provided powerful external resources for the application of scientific and technological innovation achievements. For listed companies just mentioned, as of Oct. 14, 183 Chinese science and technology enterprises had been listed on the science and technology innovation board, of which 173 are high-tech enterprises. The capital market and science and technology enterprises have supported each other, creating a virtuous circle.

Finally, we work to accelerate the formation of regional innovation clusters. In the past five years, rapid development has been achieved in the construction of science and technology innovation centers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA). Also, the construction of the Chengdu-Chongqing Science and Technology Innovation Center began recently. According to an assessment of the World Intellectual Property Organization, 17 regions of China have entered the top 100 global innovation clusters list. Among them, the GBA, Beijing, and Shanghai made the top 10. These achievements demonstrate that China's overall technological innovation capabilities have been improved during the 13th Five-Year Plan period. Thank you.

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