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Countries called on to pool strengths in science, tech

By Zhang Zhihao | China Daily | Updated: 2023-03-20 08:10
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Children admire an artificial intelligence-powered robot dog built by Unitree Robotics, a China-based startup, at Moscow Zoo in Russia in August. [PHOTO/TASS]

China and Russia can leverage their complementary strengths in science and technology to help each other fulfill their strategic needs, improve the well-being of their peoples and jointly tackle regional and global challenges with more innovative solutions, experts said.

To deepen such cooperation, the experts said that nongovernmental organizations from China and Russia should play a more prominent role by promoting academic exchanges, bolstering people-to-people relations and launching new joint platforms to support research projects and the industrialization of scientific findings.

Igor Skopintsev, a professor at Moscow Polytechnic University, said he is looking forward to President Xi Jinping's visit to Russia this week, as the visit is expected to promote further development of both countries.

Skopintsev said Russian scientists find China's work environment, and its ability to transform scientific findings into new technology and products, attractive. He said he hopes more Chinese and Russian students are able to learn from each other, and study and work in each other's country. "I am very positive about China-Russia cooperation in science and technology," he said.

China and Russia have had a long and fruitful history in science and technology cooperation spanning several decades. Both sides hoped to deepen this relationship as they started their Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation in 2020. They also launched a road map for China-Russia cooperation in science, technology and innovation from 2020 to 2025.

The framework is meant to encourage joint research in fields such as computer science, artificial intelligence, mathematics, physics, materials science and astronautics, as well as energy-saving and environmental protection technologies.

Academic exchanges and talent training are also focal points of China-Russia cooperation that have yielded concrete results. In 2019, Tsinghua University and Saint Petersburg State University founded the Tsinghua University Russian Institute. A year later, Peking University and Moscow State University established the Sino-Russian Mathematics Center in Beijing.

China has become one of Russia's top academic partners in recent years, publishing around 17 percent of Russia's international co-authored papers last year, nearly double compared with about 9 percent in 2012, according to the journal Nature.

Ding Zhifeng, executive president of the Beijing Global Talent Exchange Association and director-general of the China Center of the Russian Academy of Engineering, said that Sino-Russian science cooperation has become more profound and pragmatic with the help of scientific communities from both countries.

Since 2020, the Russian Academy of Engineering has welcomed 30 new Chinese engineers as its "foreign academicians". The academy grants this prestigious title to noted engineers from some 20 countries, among them former and current presidents of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

The China Center of the Russian Academy of Engineering has also launched nine China-Russia expert committees, with over 300 specialists in key scientific areas including aerospace engineering, integrated circuits and carbon technologies. In addition, the center has facilitated the establishment of 47 international innovation centers and joint research institutions.

"Scientific and technological collaboration is conducive to improving the innovation capabilities of China and Russia, promoting socioeconomic development and deepening mutual friendship and public relations," Ding said. "Such endeavors will facilitate the development of Sino-Russian comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination in the new era."

Ding said that top scientists and engineers could play a crucial role in deepening Sino-Russian cooperation, and in the industrialization of scientific and technological discoveries.

China and Russia should support nongovernmental organizations and private companies to engage in bilateral science cooperation, such as establishing field-specific collaboration platforms and innovation centers, joint programs for nurturing young talents and high-level academic forums, he added.

Complementarity hailed

Wu Daming, a professor at the Beijing University of Chemical Technology and a foreign academician at the Russian Academy of Engineering, said that China and Russia complement each other well in science, technology and economy.

According to Wu, Russian engineering is globally famous for its durability and reliability. "I still use the Soviet-era pans I got when I was studying in Russia decades ago," he said.

Russian engineers also excel in many strategic sectors, such as aerospace engineering, nuclear technology and civil engineering.

As Russia needs to improve in terms of consumer tech products and market size, China's solid industrial and manufacturing sector and its massive market help Russia figure out how to resolve these issues through trade and cooperation, Wu said.

Russia has a long history of excellence in basic sciences, including mathematics, physics, materials science and chemistry, while China also attaches great importance to basic sciences, thus creating new opportunities for collaboration, Wu said.

Wang Lijun, a professor at the North China University of Technology and a foreign academician at the Russian Academy of Engineering, said that China and Russia should increase collaboration in mathematics, basic algorithms, artificial intelligence and industrial software to increase the competitiveness of digital economies in both countries.

"China has a robust digital industry and infrastructure, while Russia excels in basic research and foundational algorithms," he said. "If we can combine the hardware advantages of China with the software strengths of Russia, we will be able to overcome many bottleneck issues and create innovations to benefit people from both countries and the world."

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