Technology innovation to drive sustainable growth, win competition
Published: Apr 02, 2023 11:08 PM
Illustration: Liu Xiangya/Global Times

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/Global Times

China is restructuring its Science and Technology Ministry so that it will spearhead the country's maneuvering to become a major technology and innovation champion in the coming decade - no matter whether it is space, 6G, big-data-aided AI technology, or high-end semiconductor chip manufacturing. 

This is not the first time the science and technology ministry undergoing reorganization. With the transferring of some functions to other ministries, the restructured ministry will be tasked primarily with a bigger role in improving a new system for mobilizing the nation to make technological breakthroughs. This important and systemic reorganization underlines the country's push to accelerate research and development so that the country can stand on the highland of international tech contest.   

Facing growing international competition and the US-led encirclement, containment and suppression of China's technology-oriented enterprises - particularly in high-end semiconductor production - this country needs to concentrate its human, fiscal and scientific resources and achieve innovational breakthroughs as soon as possible. 

China's broader efforts to ramp up its domestic scientific and technological capabilities are set to reduce the country's dependence on foreign technology. Now, it is imperative that in all critical technology areas, China should strive to be self-reliant and in complete control, removing the "chokepoints" erected by Washington's bad faith containment, which is aimed to stifle China's growth and prolong the US' global hegemony.

Analysts believe the restructured ministry will shoulder more responsibility for guiding and supervising the operation of professional research institutions, and it will withdraw from specific scientific research project review and management.

For instance, the ministry has just launched a program called "AI for Science," integrating key issues of basic disciplines including mathematics, physics, chemistry and astronomy for the purpose of promoting artificial intelligence in scientific and technological research, since AI technology has shown increasingly significant capability beyond traditional methods in many research fields in the world. 

The ministry will promote innovation of AI models and algorithms for major scientific problems, and sets up a number of dedicated AI platforms for typical scientific research fields, according to a report by Xinhua News Agency.

AI technology is now widely utilized in China, as the country owns a huge trove of internet-generated data. Many of China's private internet platforms, including ByteDance, Meituan, JD, Didi, Tencent and Alibaba are pioneers in AI research, development and use. By all metrics, China does not want to lose its advantages in AI, which could be tapped to facilitate creating new medicine, biological breeding, gene research, and new materials development.

It is known to all that only new and advanced technologies can empower an economy's sustainable growth. In the past decade, Chinese companies' 4G and 5G mobile communication technology innovations led to China's broadband speed and capacity advantages in the world, on which the country's e-commerce, social media, mobile payment and all types of digitalized business models have blossomed. Billions of Chinese people now have access to low-cost ubiquitous 4G and 5G connections or have opened up their small businesses of e-commerce and livestreaming on the platforms.

And, China now boasts the world's longest and most sophisticated high-speed railway system, which has significantly shortened the "physical distances" among all the major cities, and the heavy infrastructure investment has turbocharged China's economic growth. Also, Chinese space scientists and engineers' steadfast research and innovation have helped built up the country's peculiar edge in space technology, which is shoring up China's military capacity.

To achieve China's great rejuvenation and modernization, the emphasis should always be placed on persistent and painstaking research and innovation. The country can only rely on technology-enabling productivity enhancement to drive its future economic expansion, solidify national defense, and win the increasingly fierce competition on a global state. 

Over the past 10 years, China has become one of the rising starts of global innovation, by spending more than 2.2 percent of its GDP on research and development. Now, an increasing number of Chinese high-tech firms find themselves at the global technology frontier. 

In addition to rigorous domestic innovation, China ought to do its best to maintain the open global innovation system though strengthening cooperation with all the countries, from east or west, which are willing to cooperate with Chinese scientists and share their technology research results. Those economic partners joining the Belt and Road Initiative are endowed to enhance their technology collaboration with China and have access to Chinese new technologies. For example, China's state-of-the-art high-speed railroad system can be introduced to more of the partners. 

The author is an editor with the Global Times.