Boost science and technology

Updated: 2013-03-08 07:07

(China Daily)

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The facts and figures that Wan Gang, minister of science and technology, cited on Thursday at a news conference during the ongoing National People's Congress session painted a rosy picture of the country's development in science and technology.

That the country's exports of high-tech products ranked first in the world in 2012 speaks volumes for the tremendous progress we've made since the central authorities issued the country's long-term and mid-term plans for the development of science and technology in 2006.

The transformation of the economic growth mode that was proposed in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) has much to do with the importance the central authorities have attached to the role of science and technology in the country's overall development.

On the one hand, innovation in science and technology is badly needed to reverse the extensive and environmentally damaging development mode. We need greater input in science and technology to clean up the air, water and land we have polluted.

It is undoubtedly inspiring that the country's total investment in scientific research was more than 1 trillion yuan ($160 billion) in 2012, accounting for 1.97 percent of its gross domestic product. The input from enterprises was 74 percent of this. This is good news as the technology resulting from such a mechanism can be conveniently applied in industrial production.

The minister said that efforts would be made in the future to further boost enterprise-based innovation. It is because of such an innovation mode that the country has made progress in space technology, high-speed railways, deep-sea survey technology, supercomputers and the technologies that have sustained the country's agricultural development.

But despite all these noteworthy advances, the country still has a long way to go to catch up with developed countries.

With the importance the central authorities have attached to science and technology, there is no doubt that investment in research and innovation will further increase.

However, the input in basic research was 49.8 billion yuan in 2012, just a little more than 4 percent of the total input in scientific research, far lower than the 10 to 20 percent in developed countries.

While cultivating its enterprise-based innovation, the country must place enough importance on basic research, as this will lay the foundation for breakthroughs and foster first-class scientists for future progress.

(China Daily 03/08/2013 page9)