A boy plays with dancing robots at an intelligent devices exhibition in Luoyang, Henan province, in May. （Photo/Xinhua）
Late last month, a 2,000-kilometer-long quantum fiber link, the longest and most sophisticated in the world, was launched to connect Beijing and Shanghai and provide an unhackable communications route between the cities.
During the link's launch in Beijing, Bai Chunli, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, used Micius, the world's first quantum communication satellite which was launched by China last year, to make the first intercontinental quantum video call and spoke with Anton Zeilinger, his Austrian counterpart, in Vienna.
The breakthrough in quantum communication is one of a number of scientific achievements made by China in the past five years. Thanks to strong policy support and a growing pool of talent that is constantly pushing the envelope of technology, the world's second-largest economy is rapidly being transformed from a follower to a global leader in innovation.
The shift is in line with the call by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on Wednesday for more efforts to make China into a country of innovators and reach the frontiers of science and technology. [Special coverage]
Innovation is the primary force driving development, and it is the strategic underpinning for building a modernized economy, Xi said in a report delivered to the CPC's 19th National Congress.
"We will strengthen basic research in applied sciences, launch major national science and technology projects, and prioritize innovation in key generic technologies, cutting-edge frontier technologies, modern engineering technologies, and disruptive technologies," the president added.
Progress has already been made in the past five years, and China has emerged as a leader in the field of technology, with breakthroughs ranging from the maiden flight of the country's first homegrown large passenger aircraft to the debut of the fastest train in the world, from the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, which is set to cover the world by 2020, to robotics and artificial intelligence technologies that are widely regarded as the next frontier of growth.
According to the 2017 report of the World Intellectual Property Organization, China is the only middle-income country in the list of the world's top 25 most innovative economies, where it is ranked 22nd.
The achievement was lauded by Wan Gang, minister of Science and Technology, who said, "On the whole, we have met the goal of 'occupying a place' in the major fields of science and technology, which lays a sound foundation for China to be an innovation powerhouse."
Meanwhile, a special issue of the scientific journal Nature noted that "Chinese science has been moving at breakneck speed for the past few decades, fueled by vast infusions of cash and a rapidly growing technical workforce."