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MERICS China Industries
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Xi speech reminds cadres that China is staying the course on its innovation drive

At a glance: China’s leading party theory journal, Qiushi, published an excerpt from a speech Xi Jinping gave at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) in 2018. Speaking about turning China into a hub for science and innovation, Xi highlighted:

  • If China wants to achieve prosperity and national rejuvenation, it must vigorously develop science and technology (S&T) and strive to become the world's main scientific center and “high ground for innovation” (创新高地)
  • China faces major deficiencies in S&T that must be solved urgently, e.g., shortcomings in basic research and bottlenecks in high-end machinery and chips
  • Only by grasping key and core technologies “in [its] own hands” can China guarantee economic security, defense security and other aspects of national security

Qiushi also published several articles authored by the head of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and the party secretaries of the CAS and CAE that support and expand on Xi’s science and innovation rhetoric.

MERICS comment: The decision to publish this nearly three-year-old speech at this point in time is significant: It came just four days after the formal approval of the 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP), which places innovation front and center of China’s modernization drive (see next entry). The speech is a powerful reminder to cadres that the government’s ambitions of turning China into a “world S&T superpower” (世界科技强国) and achieving tech self-reliance have long been set in stone. The message of the speech and the FYP is clear: China’s self-sufficiency drive is a strategic pillar of China’s national development that will be pursued at all costs. Advancing S&T is a matter of both national security and long-term economic growth. But the road ahead remains long and arduous and will require intelligent sectoral policies that address China’s S&T shortcomings and vulnerabilities.

Article name: Strive to Become the World's Main Scientific Center and High Ground for Innovation (努力成为世界主要科学中心和创新高地) (Link)
Issuing body: Qiushi journal
Date: March 15, 2021 – speech delivered on May 28, 2018

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In the latest issue of the MERICS China Industries, our authors also cover the following topics:

  1. Xi speech reminds cadres that China is staying the course on its innovation drive
  2. Five-Year Plan doubles down on basic research in quest to overcome tech chokepoints
  3. China wants more foreign investment in R&D, but risks remain
  4. Continued support for Made in China 2025 as Beijing aims to advance manufacturing with digital applications
  5. Beijing’s game plan to reach carbon neutrality still short on detail