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Speech at the National Science Award Conference
Li Keqiang
January 9, 2017
Today, we are gathered for the important occasion of the National Science and Technology Award Conference to honor professionals in science and technology who have made outstanding contribution to advances in their own fields and to the modernization of China overall. Just now, General Secretary Xi Jinping and other Party and state leaders presented the Highest National Award of Science and Technology to academician Zhao Zhongxian and researcher Tu Youyou and conferred other awards to their winners. Here, on behalf of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, I wish to extend warm congratulations to all the award-winners, and convey cordial greetings and high regard to all the science and technology professionals in China. My deep appreciation also goes to foreign experts who have participated in and supported the development of science and technology in China.
Last year, thanks to the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, China made notable strides in economic and social development despite complex and grim internal and external environment. Major milestones were recorded in fields of science and technology and numerous outcomes in innovation were achieved. The CPC Central Committee and State Council convened the National Science, Technology and Innovation Conference, issuing a clarion call to build China into a science and technology giant. Vigorous efforts were made to implement the innovation-driven development strategy, such as the promulgation of the Outline of the National Strategy on Innovation-driven Development and the launch of programs for major science, technology and innovation projects toward 2030. Reform of science and technology institutions and innovation in management were accelerated, and a distribution policy that puts premium on the value of knowledge was introduced, which effectively incentivized science researchers.
Significant breakthroughs were made in science and technology, many of which reached an internationally advanced level. Let me list a few. The Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft successfully docked with Tiangong-2 space lab and astronauts managed a medium-term stay in space. The world’s largest single aperture spherical telescope went into operation. The world’s first quantum science experimental satellite “Mozi” was launched. The supercomputer “Sunway TaihuLight” powered by a home-made chip held the current world record. Outcomes of science, technology and innovation are now commercialized at a faster pace. The initiative of mass entrepreneurship and innovation gained a strong momentum. Innovation as the primary driving force is exerting a notably positive impact on growth. “Innovated in China” won international recognition, made the Chinese people proud and unleashed enormous energy that invigorated the whole nation.
A new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation is in the making, further sharpening international competition to stay ahead of the curve. China has entered a new phase of economic development featuring deep structural adjustments and renewal of driving forces. Only through innovation can China sustain the strong momentum of development. More than ever the powerful force of science, technology and innovation is called for. We must conscientiously study and act on the thinking laid out in the important speeches of General Secretary Xi Jinping, put innovation at the center of development and follow the new vision on development. Specifically, we will focus on supply-side structural reform, deepen the implementation of innovation-driven development, and transform traditional drivers of growth while fostering new ones, with a view to maintaining a medium-high rate of growth and reaching a medium-high level of development.
We will build up the capability of scientific and technological innovation across the board to lay a solid foundation for our country’s core competitiveness. We should closely follow frontier trends in science and technology, and make early and visionary planning for research and application in focal areas in light of the needs of our economy and society. National scientific and technological programs and projects and key infrastructure must be implemented and built to support innovations in science and technology.
We must strengthen basic research and original innovation, give full play to the central role of scientific research institutes and universities, and develop long-term and stable supporting mechanisms for researchers engaged in these areas to delve deep into their areas of endeavor. It is by no means easy for them to work quietly and thanklessly for long years. Yet their efforts will be adequately rewarded once the breakthrough comes. To encourage social input in innovation, a mechanism needs to be put in place to encourage companies to play a leading role based on market rules. We should also encourage greater openness in scientific and technological innovation by enhancing international cooperation and leveraging the internet and other new platforms and models to develop synergy among industries, universities and research institutes. We should pool and upgrade factors of innovation and raise the efficiency of commercialization of innovation and research outcomes.
We will deepen institutional reform for scientific and technological development and fully motivate professionals working in these fields. Talents hold the key to innovation. We must give full respect to scientists, engineers and technicians, guarantee their rights and interests, and tap their potential to the full. The government must further streamline science and technology administration, delegate powers and provide better services. A checklist-based management approach should be taken to strengthen and simplify rules, whereby greater autonomy will be given to institutes and universities in their research activities, and greater say to leading professionals of innovation in allocating research personnel, funding and resources. The government will vigorously implement policies regarding the usage of research outcomes, distribution of research yields, equity incentives, mobility of talents and permission for researchers to take part-time roles and be remunerated for that. All these will help to duly recognize and reward innovators, thus providing long-term motivation for scientific and technological research and innovation.
We will encourage mass entrepreneurship, and bring out the society’s potential for innovation. Our people are makers of history and also the fundamental driving force for innovation. We have over 170 million people with higher education or professional skills, who are endowed with great potential for innovation and form the biggest treasure house for our country’s development. We must enable all talents to apply their potential, pool their talents and strength, and raise the efficiency of the innovation. We should help both professionals to make new innovations and the common people to explore their creativity. We should both support domestically-educated talents to scale the heights of their professions, and encourage overseas talents and foreign professionals to pursue start-ups and innovation in China. The Chinese government welcomes talents with an open mind and open arms. We will provide greater space and broader platforms for all innovators to fulfill their potential.
We will comprehensively improve our supply capacity for innovation and facilitate the application and integration of scientific achievements into all sectors and fields to speed up the shift to new growth drivers, which are derived both from the emerging industries and the upgrading of traditional sectors. Driven by scientific innovations, the emerging industries in China are thriving, spearheaded by new forms of business, like the digital economy, sharing economy and platform economy. Proper regulation must be exercised to ensure healthy development of these new sectors. Meanwhile, the new technologies, new forms of business and new models must be integrated into the first, second and tertiary industries at a faster pace, to infuse traditional industries with new vitality.
We need to introduce extensive policy incentives to encourage innovation. Such measures as additional deduction of R&D spending in taxable income and accelerated depreciation of fixed assets should be better implemented. Greater support should be given to companies in setting up collaborative innovation platforms with universities, research institutes and makers. We should popularize the innovation approach based on core-group innovation enabled by wider circles of collaboration. We need to strive for parallel progress of innovation at the source, commercialization of R&D results and market development, and aim to develop more new, high-quality products that boost the competitiveness of our industries, meet the diverse consumer demand and help tackle thorny issues such as in medical care and environmental protection, with a view to raising the quality of Chinese manufacturing and influence of products “Created in China”.
We need to enhance protection of intellectual property rights and foster an innovation-friendly environment. Protecting intellectual property is protecting and incentivizing innovation. We will pilot integrated management of IPR, establish a system for IPR creation, protection and application, and crack down on IPR infringement and counterfeiting to safeguard the legal rights and interests of innovators and turn more intellectual property into real productivity. We need to foster a social environment that embraces innovation and excellence, and respects hard work, knowledge, talent and creativity. We should enable each and every one to innovate wherever possible, and celebrate the spirit of innovation together with entrepreneurship and workmanship to generate strong impetus for innovative development.
As science and technology change the world, innovation shapes the future. Let us rally more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, cherish the honor the country has conferred, conscientiously fulfill our mission and strive for greater achievements. Attaining better and faster progress of our scientific and technological endeavors would be the best way for you to greet the opening of the 19th CPC National Congress. By joining hands, we will make fresh and greater contribution to the realization of the “Two Centenary Goals” and the Chinese dream of the great national renewal and to the building of a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and modern socialist country.
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