Indispensable to be autonomous in science and technology


Removing technological bottlenecks created by foreign entities is necessary for China to become self-sufficient in science and technology and build a modern socialist society by 2035.

China adheres to an innovation-driven development policy, and is committed to self-reliance in science and technology, strengthening basic research, achieving breakthroughs in basic technologies, promoting innovation, to better protect intellectual property rights and to redouble efforts to transform the country. into a scientific and technological powerhouse.

Problems in science and technology

In terms of scientific and technological development, China still faces various challenges because its industries are “big but not strong enough” and it depends on imports for key technologies and general science and technology devices. The late development of its biological and medical equipment sector is also a problem. And with foreign countries imposing restrictions on their exports of strategic and technological products and services, China could be “caught by the throat.”

Therefore, China must, more than ever in the past, become self-sufficient in advanced science and technology if it is to consolidate the advantages of its competitive industries and continue to develop its basic sectors.

Over the past 30 years, China’s development has largely relied on using the technological achievements of developed countries. China adopted this “pursuit strategy” because of the circumstances and demands of the time. But if China continues to follow the “pursuit strategy”, the technological development gap between the country and the developed world will widen further, and Chinese industries remain at the bottom of the industrial chain for a long time.

That is why President Xi Jinping stressed the need to explore different areas and forge key technologies with Chinese advantages.

The “two bombs and one satellite” policy (atomic bombs, missiles and satellite) has helped China implement an asymmetric “catch-up strategy”. In recent years, by following this strategy, China has achieved major scientific and technological achievements, including the construction of the Tiangong space station and the manned submersible Jiaolong.

Some advanced economies attach great importance to quantum technology, with the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom and the European Union launching strategic action plans to develop quantum technology.

The United States, the world leader in quantum technology, has spent around $ 200 million annually over the past decade to promote the development of quantum technology. Google, Microsoft, IBM, Intel and other high-tech giants have also stepped up their research in this area. As for Japan, it decided in 2013 to invest 40 billion yen (352 million dollars) to develop quantum information technologies over the next 10 years.

The UK designed a national quantum technology plan in 2014, with an annual investment of £ 270million ($ 356million) to establish four quantum research and development centers for communications, sensing, imaging and computation. And in 2016, the EU announced a 10-year quantum technology flagship initiative with a budget of € 1 billion ($ 1.13 billion).

In recent years, China has increased its investments to develop quantum technology. At the 19th General Conference of Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the 14th General Conference of Academicians of the Chinese Academy of Engineering in May 2018, President Xi stressed the need for further breakthroughs in technology. quantum and use next-generation information and technologies. communication technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum information, mobile communications, internet of things and blockchain to promote innovation in the sector, further affirming the strategic importance of quantum technology.

In August 2016, China launched the world’s first quantum science experiment satellite, “Mozi Quantum Satellite”. It was the first in the world to achieve high speed satellite-to-ground quantum communication and build a quantum communication network.

After years of efforts, China has laid a good foundation for transforming itself into an economy driven by innovation and scientific and technological power. China has the capacity and resources to achieve extraordinary scientific and technological achievements, which will not only strengthen its advantages in international science and technology competitions, but also boost its economic development and improve people’s livelihoods and health, and strengthen its national defense.

From “three fronts” to “four fronts”

At a national conference on scientific and technological innovation in May 2016, President Xi proposed that scientific and technological development be focused on “three fronts”: advanced science and technology, the main economic battleground. and the main needs of the state. Presiding over a symposium of scientists in September 2020, Xi added another front to the “three fronts” to include technologies aimed at improving people’s lives and health, which underscores the importance of people’s lives and health in national science and technology development policy and reflects China’s people-centered philosophy for national governance in the new era.

But to achieve scientific and technological breakthroughs on the “four fronts”, China should not depend on foreign science and technology.

First, it must improve the design at the highest level of the implementation of the asymmetric “catching-up strategy” and take full advantage of the strengths of its socialist system, which would allow it to mobilize resources to accomplish major tasks. , and guide scientific research and technological sectors to achieve breakthroughs in key areas where China can be “taken by the throat” by foreign countries through innovation.

Second, China should strengthen the asymmetric “catch-up strategy” “founding projects” and accelerate research while making more efforts to develop technologies in which it faces bottlenecks, in order to guide university work towards innovation and consolidate their knowledge in science and technology.

And third, it should build an efficient science and technology resource allocation mechanism, and build a national innovation promotion system, cultivate a group of enterprising scientists, strengthen the construction of talent training chain, better coordinate cooperation between production and academic work, in order to effectively integrate and optimize the allocation of scientific and technological resources, to avoid dispersive, inefficient and repetitive research, and to take measures to facilitate breakthroughs in key and fundamental technologies.

Liu Li is a professor in the School of Marxism at Tsinghua University; and Liu Lei is an associate professor in the Business School, Jiangxi University of Science and Technology.

Opinions do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.