China stepping closer to 'innovative nation'

Updated 2017-05-06 10:31:12 Xinhua

China's first home-grown large passenger jet C919 made its maiden flight on Friday.

In the same week, Chinese scientists announced they had built world's first quantum computing machine, paving the way for the ultimate realization of quantum computing overtaking classical computers. China's manned submersible Jiaolong conducted its fourth dive in the South China Sea.

In April, China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier and the Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft docked with Tiangong-2 space lab and completed their first in-orbit refueling.

Such a string of achievements in science and technology shows the strategy of innovation-driven development beginning to pay off.

Innovation is at the core of the 13th five-year plan which has the objective of becoming an "innovative nation" by 2020, an international leader in innovation by 2030, and a world powerhouse of scientific and technological innovation by 2050.

PROGRESS AND HURDLES

The innovation strategy is key to supply-side structural reform which will shape China's economic policies in 2017 and beyond, but only once a major obstacle is surmounted.

Far too few of China's workforce are involved in research and development (R&D). Not enough money is spent on R&D and incentives are poor.

Of course. Chinese patenting applications have increased dramatically, but few are of any real quality. Most represent small improvements in existing products or mere design ideas. There are very few of the fully-fledged inventions which could inspire a whole generation of innovators. There is no Tesla, no transistor, no mousetrap.

While China is the world's largest consumer of computer chips, it imports most of them. To address the issue, universal chips were listed as a key scientific and technological project of national importance, but that was back in 2014.

The 13th five-year plan talks about breakthroughs in key areas by 2030, including aviation engines, quantum teleportation, intelligent manufacturing and robots, deep space and deep sea probes, new materials, brain science and health.

These projects are designed to break free from external dominance in these areas and create new directions and areas for development and growth.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE WORLD

As China makes advances in science and technology, other countries are seeking partnership.

Cisco Systems (China) invested 20 billion yuan in the Cisco (Guangzhou) Smart City project, aiming to build the largest platform of Internet R&D and intelligent operations, outside the United States.

"The project offers a great opportunity to present an innovative example to the world," said Chuck Robbins, Cisco Global CEO.

In addition to the Smart City project, hi-tech hubs in Shanghai, Beijing and many other cities are offering foreign investors ample opportunities of cooperation.

Honeywell Aerospace Asia-Pacific is one of the suppliers of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), manufacturer of the C919.

Michel Merluzeau, director of AirInsightResearch, an aerospace & defence market analysis and consulting group, anticipates that by the mid-2030s, COMAC will be an important partner in the global aerospace supply chains, owing to growth in China, partnerships and the size of the market.

"We are so proud that we have made and stuck to the right strategic choice," said Steven Lien, president of Honeywell Aerospace Asia-Pacific.

China is also attracting foreign personnel to grow its stock of high-quality workers. In 2016, 1,576 foreigners became permanent Chinese residents, an increase of 163 percent on the previous year, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

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