Two years ago, Wang Pu, Professor at Faculty of Materials and Manufacturing, Beijing University of Technology, suggested that it is crucial to own core technologies, materials and crafts. With the idea of "self-reliance and self-improvement in science and technology" promoted, Wang reaffirmed the direction of his efforts and became even more energetic.
"In order to deeply integrate into the global innovation network, we need to generate real self-confidence in science and technology based on self-reliance and self-improvement in science and technology. Thus, China can greatly contribute "eastern wisdom" to the global challenges."
Many experts we interviewed in academia and industry echoed his thoughts.
"Changes unseen in over a century": Is international cooperation still okay?
The idea of "removing international industrial supply chains from China" has been spreading overseas. "Some foreign media have been talking about 'China Threat Theory'." Wang and his peers do not deny the challenges China now faces.
Guo Tiecheng, scientific and technological strategy expert and Vice President of Institute of Scientific and Technical Information of China, gave his analysis:
"Although the challenges are tough and the suppression is frequent, the opportunity of cooperation in science and technology between China and other countries is being enlarged and there is much room for manoeuvre for China's strategies." Guo noted. As China's ability of innovation is improved, the country has an advantage in rich talent pool and an economy of a large quantity and a complete range, etc. The cooperation with other countries can be full-scale or gradient depending on how the counterpart performs in the relative field. Guo suggested, "As long as we keep stable strategies and firmly stick to innovation development and reform and opening up, the influence of the restrictions caused by 'partly decoupling' will be limited and no subversive effect will take place."
"China can uniquely contribute "eastern wisdom" to global challenges."
"Self-reliance and self-improvement in science and technology": The basic logic is the prosperity of science.
Wang kept emphasizing, "Do not undertake tough tasks unless you have necessary skills. In the long run, we can only claim that we have a spot in the modern science system if basic theories, original concepts and technologies are to be greatly developed in China."
Guo also expressed his views on the essence of "self-reliance and self-improvement in science and technology": Only by taking the prosperity of science as the underlying logic can we achieve self-reliance. He further explained: "Besides, we ought to encourage some market players to take the lead in upgrading to the medium-to-high-end level, provide innovative factors of production such as human resources and data for economic development, and stimulate the enthusiasm and creativity of scientific and technological experts to unleash the vitality of innovation. With this essence, self-reliance and self-improvement in science and technology should become the strategic focus of our country in the coming period."
Digital economy: a new innovation arena
Recently, China has been focusing on the "digital economy". As to the role of data in empowering high-quality development, Xu Wei, who is the Associate Professor at Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences of Tsinghua University, highly praised China for taking the lead in putting forward "data as a factor of production".
It is not easy to manage data elements, especially in data circulation, where data providers, users and even regulators are faced with high risks. However, China has practiced exploring solutions to problems at the technical level. A solution based on the underlying theoretical innovation of Academician Yao Qizhi's "multi-party computing (MPC)", which can achieve the idea that "data is available, invisible, controllable, quantifiable and supervised", is being transformed by the technology enterprise Hua Kong Tsingjiao, with Xu Wei as the chief scientist, to accelerate its application in practical scenarios such as the circulation and integration of data elements.
"China is no longer a "me-too" follower in terms of innovation."
Practice always steps ahead: new forms and features have emerged in international cooperation
Guo offered his analysis, "As China gradually integrates into the global innovation network, China will be more inclined to conduct strategic cooperation on governance in the future. Apart from traditional national and international projects and international cooperation on major scientific engineering devices, more non-governmental innovation cooperation modes, such as off-shore innovation, transnational technology platform, open-source ecosystem and scientific volunteer organizations without borders, display a flexible and efficient global innovation network.
"In terms of further opening up, it is possible for China to consider setting up an open 'innovative procurement fund' to carry out emerging procurement such as innovative customized procurement and pre-commercial procurement to the world." Guo suggested.
Aiming to solve problems: Confident but not arrogant
Wang told Science and Technology Daily reporter, "Academic papers are only a basic tool of academic communication, and only partly represent the achievements of scientific and technological innovation. The fundamental criteria for the achievements of scientific research should be whether they take the lead in the frontier of scientific development or solve actual scientific or technological problems."
Xu also pointed out that many investors or users of new technologies always ask him about against which the "multi-party computation" can be benchmarked. He suggested, "China is no longer a "me-too" follower in terms of innovation. We should believe in and support China's innovative edge in emerging industries, which our scientists have developed and maintained. "
Written by Fang Linlin & Zhang Jiaxin.
China Science and Technology Daily