China to open sci-tech sector wider to world

SHARING TECHNOLOGY’S POWER Chinese agriculture expert Wang Xuemin (second left) hands over rice seeds to local people at a demonstration farm operated by a Chinese firm in Abuja, Nigeria on June 2, 2022. XINHUA PHOTO

CHINA will open up its science and technology sector wider to the outside world while continuing the pursuit of indigenous innovation, Minister of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang said on Monday.

China’s sharing of its sci-tech advances contributes immensely to addressing global issues spanning energy, the environment and coronavirus containment, experts said, while calling for corresponding opening-up moves by other economies.

And, the country’s sci-tech industry openness ought to be coordinated with its push for tech security, the experts stressed.

At a press conference in Beijing where the country’s sci-tech achievements over the past decade were enumerated, Wang said that China has implemented an open, inclusive, reciprocal and shared strategy for international science and technology cooperation, continuing sci-tech partnerships with 161 countries and regions.

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The country has ramped up efforts to rev up innovation along the route of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Additionally, it has joined a fruitful research push globally to tackle climate change, food security and human health, among other issues, the minister added.

Wang pledged even greater openness as the country stands ready to communicate and cooperate with its peers and strive to make more contributions to global sci-tech advances and sustainable development.

In a sign of the openness, 27 research projects from 14 countries have been allocated scientific observation time using the 500-m Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), known as China’s Tianyan or “Sky Eye,” Hou Jianguo, president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, disclosed at the press conference.

The FAST, in Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, is the world’s largest single-dish and most sensitive radio observatory.

The indigenously developed FAST epitomizes China’s meteoric high-tech rise since the CPC’s 18th National Congress in 2012.

China’s research and development (R&D) spending rose to 2.79 trillion yuan ($420.06 billion) in 2021, accounting for 2.44 percent of the country’s GDP, official data showed. This compared with R&D expenditure of 1.03 trillion yuan in 2012, or 1.91 percent of the GDP then.

Further, the country took the 12th spot on the World Intellectual Property Organization’s annual global innovation index in 2021. It was ranked 34th in 2012.

In another sign, the number of the country’s high-tech firms surged to 330,000 last year from 49,000 a decade ago, according to Wang.

The past decade also saw the biggest increase in engineering technological strength, Li Xiaohong, president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said at the press conference, citing world-class projects built over the past 10 years such as the Tiangong Space Station and the Deep Sea No.1 — the country’s first self-operated 1,500-meter deep-water gas field.

Such achievements will underpin China’s contribution to a global joint endeavor to use technology to address wide-ranging issues like energy, the environment, climate change, and virus prevention and control, said Wang Peng, assistant professor at the Gaoling School of Artificial Intelligence at the Renmin University of China, speaking of the country’s readiness to share its research findings and applications.

Nonetheless, such sharing shouldn’t be one-sided, Wang told the Global Times on Monday, urging foreign institutions to make their research data and findings openly accessible to China.

With a good number of Chinese high-tech firms, and research institutions subject to reckless US sanctions and China’s tech rise at large challenged by weaknesses in areas such as core algorithms and lithography — a crucial step in the process of semiconductor making — “it’s imperative for the country to stay open while being mindful of the national security when it comes to sharing of research data, models and specific applications,” he said.

Another highlight from Monday’s press conference was the official response as to whether the government’s recent moves to stimulate the sci-tech industry as part of broader pro-growth measures indicate an easing of the country’s technology sector regulation.