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Innovation 'holds key to progress'
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-01-10 06:03

Turn China into an innovation-oriented country in 15 years, President Hu Jintao called on the nation yesterday.

To do so would require arduous efforts and broad, profound social reform, he told a national conference on science and technology the first of its kind in more than a decade which opened yesterday in Beijing.

Enhancing the country's innovation capability would benefit the Chinese people by improving their living standards, he said.

"Innovation is the core of the nation's competitiveness and the strategic motif of China's science and technological development," he said.

The key elements in building an innovation-oriented society are:

enhancing science and technology innovation capabilities,

using innovation to readjust industrial structures,

shifting growth modes,

building a conservation-minded and environmentally-friendly society,

making "enhanced innovation capabilities" a national strategy.

Experts said there are around a score of innovation-oriented countries, such as the United States and Japan, whose research and development (R&D) expenditures constitute more than 2 per cent of their gross domestic product (GDP), and less than one-third of their technologies are reliant on imports.

In China, the share of GDP devoted to R&D was 0.69 per cent in 1998 and 1.23 per cent in 2004; and the country relies on imports for many key technologies, according to Wang Yuan, director of the Chinese Institute for Promotion and Development of Science and Technology.

Wang, who took part in drafting China's medium- and long-term scientific and technological development programme, said that without significant scientific and technological progress and a fundamental shift in the mode of economic growth, it will be hard for the nation to achieve the target of quadrupling its 2000 gross domestic product by 2020.

President Hu said China would embark on a new path of innovation, seeking to leapfrog development in vital areas and making breakthroughs in key technologies to achieve the urgent requirement of sustained and co-ordinated economic and social development.

He urged all related departments of the central and local governments to consider the development of science and technology, especially by raising innovation capability, as a strategic investment by increasing financial input.

He presented China's top science and technology award which included 5 million yuan (US$600,000) each to Ye Duzheng, 90, an atmospheric physicist, and Wu Mengchao, 84, a liver and gall specialist. The trophy has been awarded to nine scientists since 2000.

"Real core technologies cannot be purchased but can only be achieved by innovation, which should be given priority in scientific and technological efforts," he said.

Hu pledged to step up efforts to protect intellectual property rights by improving the protection system and laws and regulations while severely cracking down on violations.

Highly-skilled people are the key to scientific innovation, he said, adding the country would train world-class scientists, especially young and middle-aged.

The country should not only inherit and develop traditional culture but also absorb the advantages of the cultures of other countries, the president said.

China Daily

(China Daily 01/10/2006 page1)

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