Key tasks for China's sci-tech works outlined in Beijing

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The 2021 National S&T Work Annual Conference was held in Beijing on Jan. 5, 2021. [Photo courtesy of the Information Center for the Ministry of Science and Technology]

China's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) will in the next five years work to foster basic research through applications, strengthen the country's strategic sci-tech capabilities, and facilitate institutional reform, said Minister Wang Zhigang in Beijing on Tuesday.

In his work report delivered at the 2021 National S&T Work Annual Conference, Wang reviewed China's sci-tech development over the 13th Five-Year Plan period, especially progress made in 2020, and further laid out the country's sci-tech priorities for the future.

According to Wang, MOST's priorities in 2021 will focus on the development of key national laboratories, making breakthroughs in key technologies, as well as focusing on sci-tech development that concerns the agriculture sector and people's well-being.

MOST will also work in 2021 to publish sci-tech innovation guidelines for the 14th Five-Year Plan period, formulate and carry out a ten-year action plan for basic research, and further strengthen international cooperation in the spirit of openness, inclusiveness, and shared benefits.

In addition, Wang said MOST will support initiatives from technologically innovative enterprises, intensify supervision of scientific misconduct efforts, and stimulate the innovative vitality of talents. Institutional reform will proceed in 2021 to improve the efficiency of China's innovation-related mechanisms.

In a review of the work achieved last year, Wang noted that the domestic sci-tech sector has fully implemented China's new development philosophy.

Since 2020, China has worked to make breakthroughs in medication, vaccines, and testing techniques related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, it issued a plan to establish 13 national applied mathematics centers across the country to support the development of basic research.

A special campaign aimed at boosting the national economy through sci-tech innovation has also been launched and a series of sci-tech projects have been initiated to relieve poverty and eliminate pollution.

Statistics from MOST show that China's total expenditure on R&D increased from 1.42 trillion yuan (US$206 billion) in 2015 to 2.21 trillion yuan in 2019. China's spending on R&D also hit a record high at 2.23% of its GDP in 2019, and spending on basic research stood at 133.56 billion last year.

China's ranking on the latest Global Innovation Index also rose from No. 29 in 2015 to No. 14.

All of these factors indicate the remarkable achievements made in China's sci-tech sector during the 13th Five-Year Plan, said Wang. He noted that China's sci-tech capacities over the past five years greatly improved thanks to a sound innovation system, an optimized innovation ecosystem, and strengthened innovation abilities. 

China's sci-tech sector has thus taken the lead to support the country's high-quality development as well as its endeavor to build a moderately prosperous society, Wang explained.

Wang added that MOST's tasks in the medium- to long-term will revolve around strengthening the systematic layout of sci-tech and innovation works, as well as original innovation and building a capacity for basic research and its applications.

Wang noted that MOST will also highlight the leading role science and technologies play in supporting high-quality development, improving people's well-being, and safeguarding national security.

A talent system with global competitiveness and an innovation ecosystem dedicated to inclusiveness, openness, and shared benefits will also be soon established, Wang added.

Content created in partnership with Science and Technology Daily.

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