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Towards An Innovative Nation---Speech by H. E. Qiu Shaofang at the Leaders of Innovation Luncheon on 12 March 2008

2008-03-13

Peter Westfield, Chairman of Australian Innovation;

Kevin Hobgood-Brown, National Chairman of Australia China Business Council;

Robin Foster, General Manager of Aus-industry;

Distinguished guests;

Ladies and gentlemen,

Good afternoon!

I understand that the 3rd Leader of Innovation Series took off very successfully with the Japanese themed event. May it land beautifully with this Chinese themed event!

I am more than pleased to have this opportunity to be here among you, sharing different ideas and understandings about innovation. To open this Chinese themed event and provide you with some food for thought, I would like to brief you about China's program of building an innovative nation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

China, as you may know, used to be an innovative nation in ancient years. It is the country that gave the world gunpowder, paper and compass. But in recent centuries, its inventions seemed to dry up. Although nearly three decades of rapid economic growth has gained it massive wealth, China has only won the title of "the factory of the world". Since such a title puts great pressure on the country's resources and environment, moving up the value chain has become inevitable.

As Premier Wen Jiabao put it on several occasions, "China has reached a stage in its history where it was more dependent on scientific and technological innovation, and it should strive to enhance its innovative capabilities, which was a national strategic priority".

In February 2006, China's State Council issued the Outline of the National Program for Long-and-Medium Term Scientific and Technology Development (2006-2020), which put the task of enhancing China's capacity for independent innovation and making China an innovative country at the top of national priorities. President Hu Jintao actually described innovation as "the core of our national development strategy and a crucial link in enhancing the overall national strength".

To complete the transformation from "Made in China" to "Invented in China", here are the major measures to take:

l Increase spending on independent innovation. The proportion of China's GDP spent on research and development will be increased from today's 1.3% to 2.5% by 2020.

lI. Form a national innovation system and support basic research, research in frontier technology and technological research for public welfare. In December 2007, China's top legislature amended the Law on Science and Technology Progress, which aims to create a better environment for making innovations. The law, for the first time, allows scientists and technicians to report failures during the process of innovation without harming their records in future funding applications.

lII. Establish a market-oriented system for technological innovation, in which enterprises play the leading role and which combines the efforts of enterprises, universities and research institutes, and guide and support the concentration of factors of innovation in enterprises, thereby promoting the translation of scientific and technological advances into practical productive forces.

lV. Reform the system for managing science and technology, optimize the allocation of relevant resources, and improve the legal guarantee, policy system, incentive mechanism and market conditions to encourage technological innovation and the application of scientific and technological achievements in production.

V. Strengthen the implementation of the strategy for intellectual property rights. As a developing country, China still has much work towards optimizing its intellectual property system. This system in its modern form was established only a short time ago, and as a result, awareness of intellectual property rights remains underdeveloped in society at large. The protection of intellectual property rights has been regarded as the hot-bed that fosters innovation. A lot of governmental efforts will be made in this regard in the coming years.

All this done, we are expecting that, by year 2020, over 60% of Chinese economic growth derives from its scientific and technological progress, the dependence on foreign technologies reduces to less than 30%, and the volume of invention patents granted for native Chinese and China's share of world science citations rank top 5 in the world. These are the indications of a recognized innovative nation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Whilst stressing the importance of independent innovation, we never rule out the possibility of international cooperation. Our national innovation agenda is by no means a closed system. In fact, a nation can not have all innovation capabilities in-house. Our belief of "cooperation brings win-win situation" will always encourage us to make the best use of international resources.

Australia boasts of advanced technologies and managerial experiences in a wide range of fields. Coupled with its highly developed educational resources, Australia can have very promising cooperation with China during China's drive for an innovative nation. Companies, universities and other institutions here are always welcome to expand their business in China.

To push this cooperation, the Chinese government is ready to join the Australian Government to nurture and strengthen a system of collaborative innovation between the two countries, by showing strong political will or even instituting favorable policies.

Once again, I wish this Chinese event of the 3rd Leader of Innovation Series a huge success!

Thank you!

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