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Try to Build an Innovation-oriented Nation
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China's Fourth National Conference on Science and Technology which opened in Beijing on Monday has called for building an innovation-oriented nation.

An editorial on People's Daily has hailed the event as another milestone on China's history of science and technological development.

This was the first national mobilization convention on science and technology held by the Communist Party's Central Committee and the State Council in the new century. The purpose is to fully implement the idea of "scientific development", deploy the implementation of the National Medium-and-Long Term S&T Development Plan (2006-2020), and build an innovation-oriented country.

Driven by science and technology, mankind has been experiencing an evolution from the industrial civilization to the knowledge-based society since the beginning of the 21st century. Science and technological progress has created new economic growth sectors and played an increasingly important role in solving problems of sustainability for human society. They have become the major driving force for economic and social development and the main source of wealth.

The first 20 years of this century will be an important period of strategic opportunities for China's economic and social development and for the development of science and technology. It's China's arduous mission and severe challenge to improve its economic structure and mode of growth, build a resource-efficient and environmental friendly society and sharpen its international competitiveness and risk resistance capability. Taking the transient chance of sci-tech revolution to develop stronger sci-tech power, especially the power in self-owned innovation, is the only way to break the bottleneck between population and resources and environment, safeguard the security of economy and national defense, and realize the goal of building a Xiaokang or well-off society in an all-round way.

To strengthen the independent innovation and build an innovation-oriented country is a future-oriented significant strategy put up forward by the Communist Party of China who has conducted a comprehensive analysis on the world's main trend and the historical period China stands. That means to improve self-owned innovation, integrated innovation and renovation on the basis of absorbing existing technologies. It also means adjustment on the mode of economic growth, higher productivity, and enhancement on solving major economic and social problems by means of science and technology. To build a prosperous and vigorous country based on innovation not only needs the efforts of science and technological personnel, but also the extensive participation and support of the whole society.

To build an innovation-oriented country, China needs to further fortify its confidence in independent innovation. We have to admit that China faces a weak basis for its economic and social development with poor independent innovation performance and will have to face various pressures over the course of its development. However, that should never be an excuse for backwardness. Instead, it should be the motivation to catch up.

History has proven that industrialization and modernization have been a process of innovation. A country lagging behind can still be innovative. And creativity is the best way to catch up. History has also proven that the Chinese people are very creative. They are aspiring, confident and capable of standing among the advanced nations in the world, and making gorgeous achievements in research in state-of-art science and technology.

China needs to improve its capability of innovations to build a more innovation-oriented country. Only the "original one" is protected for its intellectual property rights. The "copied one" is not. You have to pay for sharing technological innovation created by others. But even so, how can you pay for core technologies or the ability of innovation?

China has no choice but relies on its own science and technological breakthroughs on its independent creation. The country should take the advantage of the world's science and technology resources to have more scientific discoveries and technological inventions. Products and industries which are competitive on the market should be made through integrating relevant technologies. Foreign advanced technologies should be imported, absorbed and re-innovated.

Stressing independent innovation doesn't mean to resist introduction of advanced technologies. With the trend of economic globalization and further opening-up, China should make full use of both domestic and foreign resources to push forward the independent innovation at a higher footing. We should focus on world's frontier science and technology, be clear about our strategic goals for independent innovation, speed up the pace of building the national innovation system, rally the resources on strategic hi-tech field which will be a key area for the whole process of modernization course; the research field of public interest which will be a key area for a coordinated, comprehensive and sustainable development; and both important and basic research fields which will be of key importance for the sustainability of the science and technology itself so that more important breakthroughs will be made.

China needs to offer a more favorable environment to facilitate independent innovation. The systemic and cultural environment is critical to edge ability of independent innovation. The imminent task is to fix the loopholes in the existing mechanism, giving a full play to the market which allocates the resources while having the nation mobilize the sci-tech resources more effectively. Enterprises are expected to play a leading role in the technological innovation system which is guided by the market and combines the production with research.

A mechanism both focusing on key points and promoting coordination should be in place to use the sci-tech resources more efficiently. The present situation should be taken into consideration to map out effective forward-looking policies to input incentives to independent innovation and sci-tech progress. Efforts should be made on attracting outstanding talents, especially young talented people to dedicate themselves to the sci-tech development. The whole society should be educated to be more scientifically minded and wipe off the negative elements in the traditional culture which discourage the mentality of independent innovation. Our society needs an active and democratic atmosphere for innovation.

Memories are still fresh about the commitment on "marching towards the science" made 50 years ago at the National Conference for Intellectuals and the advent of the "spring for science" 28 years ago at the National Science Conference where late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping recognized science and technology as production force. The Chinese people have witnessed and experienced tremendous changes brought about by the development of science and technology, enjoyed the wealth that is created by the scientific progress, and had intimate feelings towards how the power of science and technology serve as the cornerstone of a nation's strength and dignity.

The editorial concluded that today's China is standing at a new historical starting point. It calls for vigorous, enterprising and courageous efforts to undertake the sacred historic mission of building an innovation-oriented nation.

(People's Daily January 13, 2006)

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