China’s pioneering role in innovation


Over the last decade, China has surged forward, marking an impressive trajectory in scientific and technological advancements, establishing itself as a global leader in innovation. The World Intellectual Property Organization’s Global Innovation Index witnessed China’s ascent from the 34th position in 2012 to the 12th in 2021, a testament to its burgeoning innovation prowess, aiding the world in addressing diverse global challenges.

In tandem with its ascent, China significantly augmented investments in science and technology, elevating its research and development (R&D) expenditure from 1.03 trillion yuan ($0.14 trillion) to 2.79 trillion yuan. This substantial investment positions China as the world’s second-highest investor in R&D, nearly paralleling the OECD nations’ average R&D intensity, showing a commendable rise from 1.91 percent to 2.44 percent.

Such substantial investments have yielded tangible results. China’s scientific contributions have seen a remarkable surge, with a notable increase in highly cited papers reaching 42,920 in 2021, comprising 24.8 percent of global citations. Patent applications to the Patent Cooperation Treaty surged from 19,000 in 2012 to a leading 69,500 in 2021, affirming China’s escalating global influence in innovation.

Renowned for breakthroughs in quantum information and bolstered R&D capabilities in universities and technology companies, China’s papers in pivotal disciplines like materials science, chemistry, computer science, and engineering led global citations in 2021.

The nation’s noteworthy achievements span landmark projects like Tianwen-1’s Mars exploration, Chang’e moon landing, and the successful docking of Shenzhou XIII and Tianhe core modules. Investments in scientific infrastructure like the Large High Altitude Air Shower Observatory and the Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) underline China’s strides in scientific discovery.

These advancements have also catalyzed industrial transformations, leveraging sophisticated technologies and equipment to propel industrial upgrades. Strategic emphasis on research involving coal utilization for efficiency and eco-friendliness exemplifies China’s commitment to sustainable innovation.

Furthermore, China’s embrace of emerging technologies like AI, big data, and blockchain has sparked innovations in smart terminals, telemedicine, and digital economies, amplifying investments in new energy vehicles and leading in solar and wind power generation.

Central to China’s achievements is its global cooperation, collaborating with 161 nations, conducting joint research on 144,500 papers in 2020 alone. Collaborative efforts span major global initiatives addressing climate change, enhancing human welfare, and health improvement.

Adopting an inclusive approach, China promotes international cooperation and open innovation through policy tools, facilitating expansive scientific infrastructure and R&D platforms. China’s intellectual property imports reaching $46.8 billion in 2021 underscore its commitment to global scientific advancement.

In alignment with the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), China aims to further integrate into the global innovation network, championing an open, inclusive international cooperation policy. Committed to international rules, fostering an open innovation ecosystem, and enhancing global scientific and socioeconomic contributions, China stands poised to chart the course for global scientific progress.


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