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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The world has undergone considerable changes which have affected the fields of science and technology. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, what progress has China made in international scientific and technological cooperation? At the same time, under the current situation, what arrangements have China made in terms of international cooperation? Thank you.

Wang Zhigang:

Thank you for your question. The international situation has indeed affected us. Science and technology play an important role in both international competition and cooperation. The field of technology has become a key battleground, and we must rise to the challenge. Many Chinese companies, and especially high-tech companies and personnel, have been excluded and suppressed by some forces around the world. However, I think that science is in some sense a universal language and has its own objective laws. Therefore, international cooperation is necessary for the development of science and technology and we need to build a scientific community according to developmental laws. In addition, scientific research cannot be conducted behind closed doors. There is a Chinese saying:"When I walk along with two others, they may serve me as my teachers."With this viewpoint in mind, China has always been adhering to the correct path of cooperation in the reform and opening-up process where science and technology take center stage. We also recognize that over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, including during the 13th Five-Year Plan period, China has not only participated in and benefited from scientific and technological opening-up and cooperation, but also contributed to global technological progress and human development. It is a reciprocal process. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, we have continued to advance innovation with a global perspective and actively integrated into the global innovation network. We have promoted scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation in fields including basic research and global issues between scientists in China and from around the world, and jointly increased public knowledge and the collective wisdom of human society.

First, a comprehensive and multi-layer cooperation framework covering a wide range of areas has been formed. Bilateral and multilateral inter-governmental exchanges and cooperation in scientific and technological fields have been strengthened. We have established innovative dialogue mechanisms with multiple countries, and extensively participated in and promoted consultations and practical cooperation on issues of sci-tech innovation under multilateral mechanisms. At present, China has established such cooperation relations with 161 countries and regions, and signed 114 inter-governmental scientific and technological cooperation agreements, which are all part of various mechanisms. China has also participated in more than 200 international organizations as well as multilateral mechanisms related to science and technology.

Second, the Ministry of Science and Technology has actively participated and taken the lead in organizing and undertaking international big science research plans and projects. It has also actively undertaken tasks and fully participated in the operational management of major international scientific programs and projects such as the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, Square Kilometer Array (SKA) radio telescope, and International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). The Ministry of Science and Technology has been solving major technological and engineering difficulties in a proactive manner, and is playing an increasingly important role accordingly. It focuses on major issues concerning sustainable global development, is accelerating efforts to launch international big science research plans and projects which are led by China, and supports scientists of all countries to jointly conduct research. The role China plays in this regard has changed from an increased level of participation to taking the initiative.

Third, the Ministry of Science and Technology has fully implemented the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan. General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed this action plan during the first and second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF). The plan consists of four aspects: the Science and Technology People-to-People Exchange Initiative, the Joint Laboratory Initiative, the Science Park Cooperation Initiative, and the Technology Transfer Initiative. We have supported over 8,300 young scientists from around the world to work in China, trained 180,000 personnel, and started construction on 33 joint laboratories with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative. We have also established official cooperation relations on science parks with eight countries, built five national tech transfer platforms, and launched a Sino-African sci-tech innovation cooperation center. A technology transferring South-South cooperation center has also been established under the UN's South-South cooperation mechanism, and the Belt and Road tech transfer network has been basically established.

We are delighted to see that more and more Chinese science and technology professionals are participating in international sci-tech undertakings, and are contributing Chinese wisdom to addressing major global issues. For example, amid the pandemic prevention and control work, China has earnestly fulfilled its international obligations by actively promoting the sharing of scientific data and information. China has established relevant scientific data sharing platforms which are open to the world. The platforms have provided services for users in 175 countries and regions, with total downloads of data exceeding 160 million times. The platforms have helped China share its anti-epidemic experience with the rest of the world, strengthened global R&D efforts and cooperation in vaccine, medicine and COVID-19 testing, and thus contributed to the global anti-pandemic efforts. China also takes the lead in animal models as we mentioned earlier. Not long ago, China officially joined the COVAX initiative, the COVID-19 vaccination plan co-led by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organization (WHO). China will resolutely honor its solemn commitment to provide vaccines and other public goods for the world.

Looking ahead, China's resolve to promote the opening-up and cooperation on sci-tech is even stronger. Our determination in this regard is persistent. As I said at the beginning, science and technology requires international cooperation. China will take even bigger steps to promote international cooperation and communication in this regard at both government-to-government level and people-to-people level. China will work to make the BRIa path to innovation, joining hands with the rest of world to address major public health challenges such as COVID-19. China will open its doors even wider to the world regarding its science and technology plans, and provide greater convenience for overseas talents who work and open businesses in China. Through opening-up and cooperation, China will realize mutual benefit, understanding, respect and trust with the rest of the world. China will take on the responsibility of sci-tech innovation to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

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