By Liu Zhiqiang
Traveling more than 200 million km, China’s Mars probe Tianwen-1 completed a deep-space maneuver about 30 million km away from Earth on Oct. 9, refining its course toward the Red Planet.
The country also completed global deployment of its independently developed and operated BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, providing high-quality services for people around the world. And the latest BeiDou high-accuracy positioning service platform launched on Oct. 14 improves positioning accuracy to 1.2 meters for civilian mobile users.
A batch of major innovative results have emerged in China’s science and technology, such as the aforementioned vital space infrastructure, original innovations, research results in frontier areas, and scientific and technological achievements concerning people’s livelihood.
Such innovations have allowed China to catch up with other scientific powerhouses or even lead in certain frontier fields. The country’s sci-tech innovation provides vigorous momentum for achieving high-quality development and high-quality life.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) recently issued calculation results about last year’s China Innovation Index (CII), a barometer of the country’s innovation capability. In 2019, the index rose by 7.8 percent over the previous year to 228.3 points (compared with 100 in 2005), sustaining its rapid growth, according to calculations.
Last year, the sub-indices for innovation environment, innovation input, innovation output, and innovation effectiveness reached 249.9, 199.1, 295.3, and 168.8 points, respectively, up 10.5 percent, 3.0 percent, 11.8 percent, and 3.1 percent from a year ago.
Nineteen of the 21 innovation indicators rose over the previous year, and four of them saw double-digit growth, including the index of proportion of enterprises enjoying additional tax deduction and exemption, trademark ownership per 100 enterprises, the proportion of invention patents granted in patents granted, and volume of transaction in technology market per 10,000 scientific and technical personnel.
“The calculation results show that in 2019, China significantly optimized its innovation environment, steadily increased innovation input, greatly improved innovation output, further released innovation effects, and continuously enhanced new momentum of innovation and development,” said Li Yin, a statistician from the NBS, explaining why the CII reached a new high last year.
China has continuously increased fiscal funds on science and technology and seen remarkable results in implementing the policy of additional tax deductions and exemption. Last year, state appropriations for science and technology stood at 1,071.74 billion yuan (about $161 billion), up 12.6 percent over the previous year.
In recent years, China has implemented the policy on raising the proportion and expanding the scope of additional tax deductions for enterprises’ spending on research and development (R&D), achieving significant progress.
In 2019, 50,000 industrial enterprises above the designated size benefited from the policy, an increase of 43.2 percent from a year ago. Additional tax deductions and exemption for their R&D spending hit 139.97 billion yuan, exceeding 100 billion yuan for the first time.
China’s R&D investment has risen substantially. Last year, the country’s R&D investment exceeded 2.21 trillion yuan, the second largest number in the world. It was 12.5 percent more than in 2018, seeing double-digit growth for four consecutive years.
In the same year, the R&D intensity, or the proportion of R&D expenditure to GDP, reached 2.23 percent, 0.09 percentage points higher than that in the previous year, indicating a narrowing gap between China and developed countries year by year.
Chinese enterprises have continued to play a dominant role in the development of technological innovation. They spent over 1.69 trillion yuan on R&D last year, up 11.1 percent from 2018, contributing 68.5 percent to the growth of the country’s total R&D spending.
In the same year, 188,000 industrial enterprises above designated size conducted technological innovation activities, accounting for 49.6 percent of the total, a significant increase of 6.6 percentage points from 2018.
In 2019, new products manufactured by China’s medium and large industrial enterprises generated 16.6 trillion yuan in sales revenue. These products accounted for 24.9 percent of their income from major businesses, up 1.4 percentage points over the previous year, hitting a new high since 2005.
China has also witnessed fruitful achievements regarding innovation output and the rapid development of its technology market. Last year, the country granted 2.474 million domestic patents, 6 percent more than in 2018, and published 1.95 million scientific papers, up 6 percent.
Chinese firms have continued to make progress in their brand building. The country’s medium and large industrial enterprises had 538,000 registered trademarks by the end of 2019, up 14 percent over the previous year.
Last year, the transaction value in China’s technology market hit about 2.24 trillion yuan, up 26.6 percent from a year ago, indicating that the country is accelerating the pace of facilitating channels for the transfer and commercialization of technological achievements.
Scientific exploration is never smooth sailing, and there is no end to scientific and technological innovations.
As long as China continues to fully unleash the creativity and innovation potential of innovative professionals, give full rein to their enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity, firmly seize strategic opportunities and pursue innovation-driven development, it will surely make sci-tech innovations mushroom in a steady flow and score greater achievements in the sector.