China aims to become an innovation powerhouse by 2020, according to a newly adopted national plan on science and technology innovation during the 13th Five-Year Program (2016-2020).
The plan was passed on July 20 at the State Council’s executive meeting, which was chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
“This is the first sub-plan under the 13th Five-Year Program … and it fully demonstrates that we’ve given top priority to innovation,” Li said.
According to the plan, China will further advance its global ranking in innovation competence, with combined efforts to enhance original innovation, build key science innovation parks and attract top-tier researchers.
The Ministry of Science and Technology spent two years drafting the plan and sought suggestions from related departments during the process.
Under the new plan, the country will start a series of key scientific and technological innovation projects, and establish dozens of innovation zones across the country, with Beijing and Shanghai pioneering the effort.
The plan also emphasizes industrial upgrading and sustainable development, laying out supporting policies for modern agriculture, clean and efficient energy, and mobile telecommunications.
The government has, since 2013, repeatedly highlighted the importance of innovation, providing support and encouraging mass innovation and business start-ups.
Innovation is of vital importance as the economy is shifting from one driven by investment and manufacturing to one more consumption-based and service-focused.
Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show that in the first half of 2016, consumption contributed 73.4 percent to the national gross domestic product (GDP) growth.
Business start-ups in China with innovative ideas and investment have been flourishing. Some indigenous innovations have greatly changed people’s lives, such as the mobile messaging app WeChat, offering a user-friendly experience that can rival other global competitors.
The plan also offers measures to address some particular obstacles regarding innovation, such as the obvious gap in technology transfer from research institutions to companies, among others.
“The case for overhauling science and research systems and generating greater enthusiasm among science and technology researchers is very strong if we mean to enable true breakthroughs in innovation,” Li said.