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An article by H.E. Ambassador Song zhe on the website of The Parliament

Independent Innovation: The Core of China’s Development Strategy

A core content of China’s current development strategy is to boost independent innovation capacity and build a country of innovation. There are three important aspects of this idea. First, we plan to promote original innovation through scientific discoveries and technical inventions in an effort to boost scientific innovation capacity and technical competitiveness. Second, we plan to advance collective innovation by combining technical advances in various fields to produce products or foster industries that are competitive. Third, we plan to facilitate full assimilation and re-innovation based on the best scientific development and advanced technologies from abroad.

Ever since the reform and opening up, the Chinese economy has been growing at a fast speed, improving people’s life and lifting the nation’s overall strength. However, we have never genuinely resolved the underlying problems of an inappropriate economic and industrial structure. The quality and efficiency of economic growth needs further improvement, and population, resources, and environment have become bottlenecks seriously constraining development. Today, China’s per capita possession of energy resources is less than half of the world’s average.

In order to achieve China’s long-term steady and sustainable economic and social development, efforts to transform the economic structure and growth pattern are taking up speed. There is a stronger emphasis on independent innovation, and measures we taken to ensure that scientific progress will have significantly larger contribution to the economic growth. We regard independent innovation as a key element for national strength, and hope that it will serve as an internal driving force for China’s sound and fast economic progress. In order to make China a country of innovation, there needs to be a fundamental change in the power source of the Chinese economy, shifting it from a one driven by factors of production to a one incentivized by innovation. We are now promoting this idea across the whole country in all sectors of the economy. Our hope is to seize the present important opportunity of scientific revolution and global industrial structure adjustment, and grow more strength in scientific progress and independent innovation.

The international financial crisis gave the Chinese economy a heavy blow. The Chinese government, in response to the crisis, has taken active measures of a package plan to boost domestic demand, maintain growth, and adjust structure. The support for the S&T sector was an integral part of the plan backed by strong government investment. The measures largely held back economic downturn and helped fostered new areas of growth. In the days ahead, we will continue to prioritize and accelerate independent innovation in this area, so that the S&T sector will become a full driving force to bring about innovation-driven scientific progress in China at an early date. We will make greater efforts to work for breakthroughs in new energy, new materials, advanced manufacturing, information network, modern agriculture, health science, ecological environment protection, space science, marine science, national security, and public security. Our goal is to achieve major advances in a set of core key technologies, turn the results of S&T development into industrial production, and grow strategically important new industries. Our plan for institutional and systematic innovation is to put in place a market oriented system that integrates production, research, and development driven primarily by enterprises. With such, we will be able to optimize the allocation of our S&T resources for open sharing and efficient application.

The independent innovation we propose cannot be achieved behind closed doors. What we are looking for is open innovation through learning under the global context. We will embrace the economic and S&T globalization with a more open gesture, and learn from and complement each other through exchanges and cooperation in pursuit of common progress.

Over the years, the EU has always been our biggest supplier of technologies. Our long-term cooperation has rewarded us with sound mutual trust and mutual benefit. Both China and the EU regard innovation as the key for economic growth in the respective documents of China’s Development Plan Outline for Medium and Long Term Science and Technology Development published in 2006 and the EU’s recently announced 2020 Strategy. This constitutes a very good basis for deepening the China-EU strategic cooperation. Enterprises should be the main actors to promote our cooperation in a market-oriented environment. While business ties consolidate the basis, cooperation in new high technologies should lead additional growth, particularly in the area of green economy. China’s policy to encourage independent innovatory discriminates no enterprises within China. Foreign businesses are not excluded from anything. In the joint press availability with President Barroso at the end of April, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed that China will not waver in the opening up policy and is committed to a fair competition environment among all market players, foreign and home-based.

The recognition of national independent innovation products is an important policy of the whole strategy targeted at all businesses operating in China. The purpose of recognition is to scale up the market of independent innovation production with advanced, applicable and reliable goods through larger R&D investment, respect for and protection of the IPR, and stronger attention on product quality. In the spirit of openness and transparency, competent authorities in China have recently adjusted certain recognition-related policy expressions to put right possible misinterpretation. The clarified wording fully embodies the principles of non-discrimination, market orientation, and the IPR protection. The most important aspect lies in government purchase and construction project, where it requires open and transparent approach and equal treatment to Chinese as well as foreign companies doing businesses in China. The Chinese government welcomes European companies’ engagement in our reform and opening up endeavor, and we are willing to share opportunities and achievements of our economic progress.

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