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Scientists hail Xi's speech on innovation

By ZHANG ZHIHAO | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-05-31 07:05
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President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, addresses a meeting conflating the general assemblies of the members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, and the national congress of the China Association for Science and Technology at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on May 28, 2021. [Photo/Xinhua]

Xi urged the Chinese scientific community to be aware of the challenges of the time, break new ground and make new findings in key sectors, train higher-quality talent and proactively participate in the global governance of science and technology.

Wang Xi, a material scientist and a CAS academician, said Xi's speech was both inspiring and instructive as it listed the five main objectives for Chinese scientists, namely enhancing basic research, institutional reforms, international cooperation and talent training, and increasing the nation's science and technology capability in strategic sectors.

"The point that caught my attention is Xi's emphasis on the role of an effective market and a capable government in science and technology innovation," Wang said, adding that Guangdong province provides an example of this idea in action.

Guangdong is one of the most innovative regions in China, boasting over 53,000 high-tech companies and a 320 billion yuan ($50.3 billion) research budget in 2020, Wang said. What made Guangdong stand out was that private companies contributed over 80 percent of the total budget and around 90 percent of the total research personnel in the province last year.

"This fact is a testimony to Xi's quote on Friday about leading tech enterprises also being a key component of a nation's strategic science and technology capability," he said.

Meanwhile, the provincial government plays a critical role in identifying strategic needs and guiding research efforts toward finding a solution, for example building new infrastructure such as labs for chemical engineering and petroleum refineries.

Peng Shou, a senior engineer and a CAE academician, said Xi's speech has motivated continued efforts to overcome key obstacles in developing advanced glass materials, such as those used for displays and in medicine, for which China currently relies heavily on imports.

"We will push China from being just a major material producing nation to a global leader in materials science and manufacturing," he said. This will require Chinese engineers to be inquisitive, hardworking and patient, but also to be able to identify and develop potential talent, as well as allowing them to flourish, he added.

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