Nation takes giant strides with innovation

Updated: 2022-10-20 China Daily



Editor's note: A survey among China Daily's overseas readers ahead of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China shows that the nation's ecological progress, economy, diplomacy, science and technology, and the Belt and Road Initiative are among some of the most closely observed issues. China Daily is publishing a series of special articles to offer readers an in-depth look at these topics.

Key advances being made in fields of science, technology

China's unwavering efforts to pursue innovation-driven growth and promote in-depth integration of cutting-edge technologies including artificial intelligence, 5G and big data with the real economy have drawn praise from experts.

They said these advances will further bolster digital transformation and upgrading of industries, and inject fresh impetus into the nation's high-quality economic development.

China is playing an increasingly important role in promoting scientific and technological innovation, helping safeguard the stability of worldwide industrial and supply chains, and driving global economic recovery amid downward pressures and uncertainties at home and abroad, the experts added.

During the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period, the nation will uphold the central role of innovation in its modernization drive and take self-reliance in science and technology as the strategy underpinning national development.

Long Haibo, a senior researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council, said: "Innovation is the key driver of global economic growth. The worldwide economic recovery is facing severe challenges against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple uncertainties. Therefore, it is necessary to jointly explore and find solutions to global problems through scientific and technological innovation."

Noting that emerging digital technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, the industrial internet, big data and blockchain are gaining momentum and accelerating digitalization in a wide range of traditional industries, including manufacturing and agriculture, Long said more efforts are needed to step up investment in frontier technologies and gain a competitive edge in key fields.

China's strength in science and technology innovation has taken a qualitative leap in recent years. According to the 2022 Global Innovative Index released by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the nation has risen to 11th place and remains the only middle-income economy in the top 30. The index ranks the world's economies annually on innovation capacity and output.

Artificial intelligence, a key technology for driving digital transformation, has played a vital role in speeding the nation's push for industrial upgrading. Significant progress has been made in developing China's AI industry, with technological innovation capabilities in some areas ranking among the best in the world, according to experts.

A Stanford University report shows that China filed more than half the world's AI patent applications last year, and the nation continued to lead the world in the number of AI journals, conference papers and related publications.

The report said Chinese researchers have been the most prolific in recent years, publishing 27.5 percent of all AI journal articles worldwide, while researchers from the United States accounted for 12 percent. Articles in Chinese journals also topped those of other nations for citations, an indicator of their scientific importance.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, or MIIT, the value of China's core AI industries exceeds 400 billion yuan ($55.92 billion), and the number of related enterprises stands at more than 3,000, with major breakthroughs being made in key core technologies such as smart chips and open-source frameworks.

The nation has issued a plan setting benchmarks for its AI sector, with the value of core AI industries predicted to exceed 1 trillion yuan, making China one of the global leaders in such innovation by 2030.

Chinese technology companies have invested heavily in research and development based on AI. In 2017, Baidu was chosen to lead the establishment of the AI national laboratory on deep learning. Self-driving technologies are important for this national research project.

Robin Li, co-founder and CEO of Baidu, said the application of AI technology is reshaping the industrial landscape and will be a transformative force revolutionizing development over the next 40 years.

The goal for the intelligent transformation of industries and society brought by AI is to fulfill people's needs — making technology meaningful only if it serves humanity by creating more value and contributing to society, Li said.

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