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Chinese innovations to benefit the world: Bill Gates

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-04-07 16:20

BOAO, Hainan - As economists frown upon a lack of innovation plaguing China's economy, Bill Gates has highlighted the innovations China is adept at that can benefit the world: in epidemic control and grain production.

In a speech delivered on Saturday evening at the Boao Forum for Asia held in South China's Hainan province, Gates said the country's scientific breakthroughs can help Africa and less developed countries battle epidemics, hunger and poverty.

"The breakthrough science and technology that's happening here in China can help the poorest people in the world lead healthier, more productive lives," said Gates, who is the co-chair and trustee of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Gates said China has successfully lifted 600 million people out of poverty over the past three decades, a victory that could not have been achieved without innovation in human health and agricultural productivity.

Gates said his foundation, which has been active in the country in battling HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and reducing tobacco use, is working with the Chinese government and institutes on epidemic control and agricultural research.

"We see this potential, for example, in vaccines, where China is quickly becoming a leader," he said.

The foundation is collaborating with a Chinese institute and developer of a low-cost vaccine for Japanese encephalitis to ensure supplies of polio vaccines and the development of less expensive doses, he said.

In addition to becoming a major supplier of vaccines, Gates said China can "play a broader leadership role by sharing its own experience" to eradicate epidemics like polio in other countries.

China has eliminated the paralyzing disease and reported no indigenous cases since 1994, thanks to a domestically-developed vaccine and a nationwide vaccination campaign, which began in 1965.

Apart from medication, Gates believes the country's innovation in increasing crop yields can also help reduce hunger in Africa, where agricultural productivity remains "dismally low".

China has increased its grain productivity by 2.6 percent per year in the past two decades, and its breakthroughs in developing high-yield rice varieties will benefit other poor countries, Gates suggested.

The foundation is working with the Chinese Academy of Agriculture Sciences and a bio-technology institute to develop Green Super Rice, which has proved capable of raising production of small farmers by 20 percent in pilot projects, he said.

Gates also called on Chinese entrepreneurs to use "the same skills and rigor you brought to investing in the market to investing in solutions for the poor".

Also at the forum, Vice Minister of Science and Technology Zhang Laiwu said the ministry will deepen cooperation with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in agricultural research and developing vaccines for major infectious diseases.

The ministry signed a strategic cooperation memorandum with the foundation in 2011 to promote agricultural development, relieve poverty and promote health causes worldwide via technology.

"At present, we have cooperated in seven fields and launched two pilot projects, including major crop breeding, rural informatization, TB-drugs and polio vaccines, and Green Super Rice," Zhang said.

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