Media Highlights

Xi Jinping calls for strengthening basic research to solidify self-reliance in science and technology

Source: Xinhua

BEIJING, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, presided over the third group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on strengthening basic research on Tuesday afternoon. Xi stressed that strengthening basic research is an imperative for higher-level self-reliance and greater strength in science and technology, and is the only path to building China into a world leader in science and technology. Party committees and governments at all levels should make it a priority to place promoting basic research on the agenda of science and technology work, step up coordination and policy support, so as to promote the high-quality development of basic research.

Professor Gong Qihuang, president of Peking University and an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences, gave a lecture on this issue and put forward suggestions. After listening to the lecture, members of the Political Bureau had a discussion.

Xi made an important speech after listening to the lecture and the discussion. He pointed out that the Party and the government have always attached importance to basic research. Our country has made major achievements in this area since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and, especially since the reform and opening up in 1978. At present, a new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial transformation is advancing rapidly. Interdisciplinary research and integration are progressing, and scientific research paradigms are undergoing important transformations. Science and technology are becoming intertwined with social and economic development at a faster pace, and the transformation cycle of basic research into application and commercial value has been significantly shortened. International competition in science and technology is moving closer to the frontier of basic research. To respond to international sci-tech competition, achieve higher-level self-reliance and greater strength in science and technology, foster a new development pattern, and promote high-quality development, it is urgent to strengthen basic research and address key technological challenges from the source and the bottom, Xi noted.

Xi stressed that we must strengthen the forward-looking, strategic and systematic layout of basic research, which is the initial end of the scientific research chain from research to application and then to production. Only when a solid foundation is laid, will the sci-tech building be built tall. We must adhere to the principles of targeting global scientific and technological frontiers, serving the economy, meeting major national needs, and striving to improve people's lives and health. We must place emphasis on goal-oriented research as well as the freedom to experiment. We must integrate the frontier science and technology in the world with the major national strategic needs and economic and social development goals. Efforts should be made to coordinate frontier questions raised in light of the law of scientific progress with theoretical questions drawn from major applied research, and sum up key scientific questions in basic research. We should keep abreast of the sci-tech trends and the strategic needs of the country, strengthen feasibility studies, selection and evaluation of major basic research projects, give full respect to the opinions of scientists, grasp the general trends and make "a good first move."

We should boost China's strength in strategic science and technology, and promote strategy-oriented systematic basic research, frontier-oriented exploratory basic research and market-oriented applied basic research in an organized manner. We should give full play to the guiding role of national laboratories, the organizing role of national research institutes, the role of advanced-level research universities as a leading force, and the role of leading sci-tech enterprises as those setting, taking the "exams" and reviewing the "results." We should optimize the layout of basic disciplines, support the development of key, emerging, less-popular and weak disciplines, and promote the integration of disciplines as well as interdisciplinary research, so as to build a high-quality discipline system with comprehensive and balanced development.

Xi noted that the world has entered an era of "big science," in which basic research is becoming more and more organized, and thus the impact of institutional support and policy guidance on the output of basic research is becoming increasingly stronger. It is therefore imperative to deepen reform of systems and mechanisms of basic research, so as to give better play to the driving and leading role of institutions and policies in value and strategy. We should steadily increase financial investment in basic research, encourage enterprises to increase investment through various methods such as tax cuts, encourage non-governmental sectors to invest through diverse channels such as scientific funds or donations, improve the funding capacity of the National Natural Science Foundation of China and its joint funds, so as to establish and improve an investment mechanism for basic research which combines both competitive support and stable support.

We should optimize the support system for the basic research within the national science and technology plan, improve the mechanisms for the organization, submission, assessment and decision-making of basic research projects, adopt differentiated and classified management as well as international and domestic peer-reviews, organize coordinated efforts to tackle key scientific problems, encourage studies based on free exploration and non-consensus innovation.

We should well handle the relations between a new "whole-nation system" and the market mechanism. In line with the long cycle of basic research, we should refine evaluation and incentive system for scientific and technological study, application and transformation system for findings, salary system for scientific and technological personnel. Long-term and stable support should be provided to innovation centers, preponderant teams and key focuses for basic research, with an aim of establishing cradles for initial innovation and building a force to spearhead basic research.

Xi stressed that a national laboratories system with Chinese characteristics should be established in a collaborated manner, research centers for basic scientific disciplines should be founded and a new information-based platform for scientific research should be deployed in advance, so that a backbone network for basic research can be established. We need to scientifically plan the layout for major scientific and technological infrastructure that is forward-looking and leading, strategically oriented and supports application. We should strengthen supervision during and after the infrastructure construction, improve all-cycle management, and promote openness and sharing as well as operational efficiency.

It is important to win the critical battle in developing scientific and technological apparatus, operating systems and basic software domestically. Scientific research institutions, universities and enterprises should be encouraged to launch joint projects for breakthroughs, with a view to providing more domestically-developed alternatives to those imported devices and apparatus in a large scale, so that we might be able to use at an early date independently-developed research platforms and apparatus to solve problems facing key basic research.

Xi pointed out that strengthening basic research ultimately depends on high-quality talented researchers. So efforts must be made to build an institutionalized and high-level platform to cultivate talented personnel for basic research, so that an increasing number of such research personnel can be trained.

He stressed that support from various talent training plans for basic research talents must be beefed up, strategic scientists must be cultivated and used, young scientific and technological talents should be supported to shoulder important duties, and the teams of leading scientific and technological personnel and first-class innovation teams should be continuously expanded. The mechanism for differentiated evaluation of basic research talents must be optimized and so must the mechanism that provides long-term support for them, and leading scientific and technological talents should be given greater say in terms of human, financial and material resources and the choice of technical routes, so that an evaluation system that conforms to the law of basic research and the law of talent growth can be established. Efforts must be made to improve the academic atmosphere and conduct of scientific research, guide scientific and technological personnel to abandon the style of boasting and exaggeration, and not to be impetuous, so that they can make persistent efforts with more than enough patience.

We should adhere to the approach of independent cultivation of basic research talents, thoroughly implement Middle School Talents Program, Strengthening Basic Disciplines Plan, and Top-Notch Student Training Program in Basic Disciplines, and optimize the education system of basic disciplines. We should give full play to the role of universities, especially world-class universities, as the main force in the cultivation of basic research talents, strengthen the fostering of high-level talents urgently needed by the country, and continuously create a large reserve force for basic research.

Xi stressed that, to overcome common development challenges, humanity needs international cooperation, openness, and sharing more than ever before. We should build a platform for international cooperation in basic research, set up a global-oriented scientific research fund, step up the opening-up of the national science and technology programs. We should broaden and deepen joint scientific research between China and foreign countries on climate change, energy security, bio-security, outer space utilization and other global issues. We should have forward-looking plans and deeply participate in global science and technology governance, join or initiate the establishment of international science and technology organizations, and support domestic universities, research institutes, and science and technology organizations to establish connections with international counterparts. We should strive to promote the openness, trust and cooperation of the international science and technology community, make new and greater contributions to the progress of human civilization with more major original innovations and breakthroughs in key core technology, and at the same time effectively safeguard the interests of China's scientific and technological security.

Xi pointed out that generations of science and technology personnel have jointly shaped China's unique innovation ecology through their unrelenting pursuit of the spirit embodied in the development of the atomic and hydrogen bombs, missiles, artificial satellites, manned spaceflight, lunar exploration and the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System in the new era, together with the "westward relocation spirit" and the spirit of scientists, becoming an inexhaustible driving force for the development of basic research.

It is necessary to vigorously promote the scientific spirit of pursuing truth and scaling new heights throughout society, widely publicize role models and deeds emerging in the fields of basic research and other science and technology fields, educate and guide science and technology personnel to inherit the glorious traditions of the previous generations of scientists who devoted themselves to the country and cared for the people, and base their research on the land of China.

It is also necessary to strengthen the development of China's capacity for science popularization, thoroughly implement the action to boost the scientific literacy of the whole society, disseminate scientific knowledge and showcase technological achievements through both online and offline channels, and establish a social trend of love for and advocacy of science.

In the work to ease the burden of excessive homework and off-campus tutoring for students undergoing compulsory education, efforts should be made to promote science education, stimulate the curiosity, imagination and exploratory desires of young people, and cultivate a group of young people with the potential to become scientists and the willingness to devote themselves to scientific research.

Lastly, Xi emphasized that officials at all levels should learn science and technology knowledge, carry forward the scientific spirit, proactively take the lead in solving difficulties for science and technology personnel, reducing their burden and encouraging them, and earnestly implement the Party Central Committee's series of strategic deployments on science and technology innovation.