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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We all know that one of China's two centenary goals is to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020.Science and technology is a primary source of productivity growth. What role has the primary source played in realizing the centenary goal, especially in the fight against poverty in impoverished areas? How can we further leverage the role of science and technology in consolidating the progress in poverty alleviation and realizing the rural revitalization? Thank you.

He Defang:

Thank you for your questions. You are quite right. Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, the leading Party members' group at the Ministry of Science and Technology has adhered to the important statements of General Secretary Xi Jinping on poverty alleviation work as the basic principle, fully implemented the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee on poverty alleviation, and adhered to the strategy of targeted poverty alleviation. The group has also organized and mobilized the scientific and technological forces of the entire society, and carried out the "hundred, thousand and ten thousand "scientific and technological project of poverty alleviation, achieving solid progress. I would like to answer your question from two aspects: systematic promotion by the scientific and technological industry and the comprehensive efforts in targeted poverty alleviation.

The scientific and technological industry has systematically promoted the work in poverty alleviation. First, we have focused on the technological bottlenecks appearing in the agricultural sector and empowered the capacity of poverty alleviation programs in a targeted manner. Over the past five years, 37,600 science and technology-related advances have been achieved, and more than 50,000 new varieties and technologies have been popularized, improving industrial quality and efficiency in poor areas. Second, targeting the weak link represented by a lack of sci-tech talents in poor areas, we have selected and dispatched appropriate staff to these regions. Sci-tech personnel of various levels and types have been organized to provide intellectual support for the development in impoverished areas. Technicians providing sci-tech services to ensure full coverage of entrepreneurship-driven development in villages registered as living under the poverty line has been basically achieved. Third, we have focused on the weak link that is a lack of sci-tech resources in impoverished areas and integrated innovation resources in a precise way. China has given preferential support in poor areas to construct national and provincial-level agricultural sci-tech parks and innovation platforms such as maker spaces. The parks and platforms, totaling 1,152 according to preliminary statistics, have promoted the flow of sci-tech elements to needy areas.

Second, comprehensive and redoubled efforts have been made to fight against poverty in designated poverty-stricken counties. I checked the data and found the Ministry of Science and Technology actually started its pairing assistance work in 1989. So far, a total of 30 groups have been sent out. Since the Central Conference on Poverty Alleviation, the sci-tech industry management system has formed a "four-level synergy" mechanism. By attracting and cultivating talents, transforming technological advances and supporting relevant industries, the five designated impoverished counties of Jinggangshan, Yongxin, Pingshan, Zhashui and Jiaxian have all been lifted out of poverty, with Jinggangshan the first to do so in 2017. Since 2016, we have invested 220 million yuan and introduced over 1 billion yuan to pair with and assist the five counties. The vegetables in Jinggangshan, silkworms in Yongxin, tea leaves in Pingshan, edible fungus in Zhashui, coarse cereals in Jiaxian and other poverty alleviation industries with distinctive features have taken shape, fully showing sci-tech elements are indispensable in poverty alleviation and verifying the precision, sustainability and effectiveness of science and technology-based anti-poverty efforts. I am still the head of the 30thpoverty alleviation group sent by the Ministry of Science and Technology to Shaanxi, and I want to share a couple of short stories.

First, in recent years, MOST has helped build Zhashui in Shaanxi province into an innovative county and establish three innovation platforms there, including a big data center of edible fungus and an academician workstation. This has driven growth of 30 demonstration bases and realized an annual output value of nearly 300 million yuan in the edible fungus industry. General Secretary Xi Jinping commended the edible fungus in Zhashui by noting "small fungus, big industry". Second, we promoted the "hill-drop sowing technology in dry land with permeable mulching film" across Jiaxian county in Shaanxi in 2017.Not long ago, with the approval of Mr. Wang, I went to Jiaxian on an inspection trip, where I witnessed how technological help had secured stable production and income increase despite this year's drought in northern Shaanxi. This stable production was hard-earned. The selling price registered a great increase. However, the situation of the control group was quite different.

In the next step, the Ministry of Science and Technology will further implement the decisions and arrangements of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on poverty alleviation, leverage the sci-tech advantages, and support and consolidate the progress in fight against poverty. We will continue to promote the organic link-up between poverty alleviation and rural revitalization, and to drive rural revitalization and development through innovation. Thank you.

Wang Zhigang:

I would like to add some information to the poverty alleviation work by MOST. First, as stated, it began in 1989 and Jinggangshan is the first county to shake off poverty. The science and technology-based poverty alleviation stresses helping people increase confidence in their own ability to lift themselves out of poverty and ensuring they can access the education they need to do so. Confidence is closely related with better education. When people acquire more knowledge and skills, have their own perceptions towards a problem and deal with it in their own way, they will become more ambitious and confident. In this sense, we improve people's knowledge and skills through science and technology to boost their confidence to make their own way out of poverty. In this way, they are also more likely to help others to get rid of poverty.

Second, in recent years, MOST has also organized and mobilized innovative resources in the more developed eastern regions to pair with and assist the less developed areas in the central and western regions in a targeted way. Activities of supporting the development of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Yunnan province through science and technology have been carried out. Science and technology should not only make breakthroughs on the frontiers, but also should be comprehensively upgraded to support and serve national development and security as well as improvement of people's livelihood. Thank you.

Hong Kong Economic Herald:

My question is to Mr. Wang. What achievements have been made in supporting the Greater Bay Area with science and technology, please? What are the next steps in the regard? And what thoughts and considerations do you have in scientific and technological innovation for the 14th Five-Year Plan? Thank you.

Wang Zhigang:

The development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area is a major regional strategy of China. To measure its success, sci-tech development and diffusion as well as its contribution to the area's socio-economic advances, environmental and livelihood improvement are sure to be among the most important criteria. Thus, a very important plan for the area's progress is that of sci-tech innovation. In forming the plan, the combination of sci-tech strength of not only Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao but also the rest of the country, is crucial to the overall development of the area, ranging from technology, science and research to industries and people's overall improvement. At the same time, a good environment for innovation should be fostered. Widespread, high-quality development of a region largely depends on the high-quality personnel, enterprises, research institutions and universities within it. Therefore, the Greater Bay Area should adopt people-oriented planning, provide a preferential environment for sci-tech research, and build a platform where people can integrate their personal improvement and fulfillment into the national development goal. This is a significant idea in devising the sci-tech innovation scheme for the Greater Bay Area.

We are now cooperating with Hong Kong, Macao, Shenzhen city and Guangdong province as well as sci-tech circles, industrial sectors and local governments to ensure top-level planning for sci-tech innovation. Concrete measures will be adopted to work out a proper scheme, formulate appropriate policies and laws, as well as cultivate a good cultural and social environment. Actions will be further taken to form a platform where sci-tech personnel can gather and build sci-tech infrastructure that can prop up local development. Your attention to these will be welcomed. Again, for the development of the Greater Bay Area, science and technology is one of the decisive factors. In a sense, the sci-tech success can determine the development of the Greater Bay Area. Thank you.

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