AsianScientist (Apr. 7, 2016) – China’s economic slowdown has not dampened its desire to innovate—at least, according to its latest five-year plan for 2016-2020. The country seeks to invest heavily in science and technology over this period, boosting science spending by 9.1 percent this year to 271 billion yuan (US$41 billion).
“Innovation is the primary driving force for development and must occupy a central place in China’s development strategy,” said China’s top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, during his opening speech at China’s annual parliament on March 5.
An outline of the plan later received pro forma approval by the National People’s Congress, the law-making body of China, on March 16.
At the moment, details are still scarce, as the plan simply lists priority areas—running the gamut from neuroscience and genetic research to deep space exploration, according to Science.
Priority science projects in China’s 13th five-year plan (2016-2020)
- Quantum communications and computation
- Brain research
- National cyberspace security
- Deep space exploration
- Clean, efficient use of coal
- Industrial, medical and military robots
- Applications of gene science
- Big data applications
- Deep-sea experimental platform
- New Arctic observatory, Antarctic station
Although specifics of the projects to be funded under each of the selected priority areas are yet to be disclosed, existing research being conducted in China gives an indication of the direction the country plans to take.
For instance, in the realm of deep space exploration, China signaled its intentions with the December 2015 launch of the most sensitive deep matter probe to date: the Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE), nicknamed Wukong after the Monkey King in the classic Chinese legend Journey to the West.
The country has also set the goal of removing 500 million tons of coal production capacity in the next three to five years. Energy consumption and carbon emissions to be reduced by 15 and 18 percent respectively by 2020.
However individual projects play out, one expectation is that funding for basic research will rise from less than five percent currently to ten percent of total R&D spending by 2020.
If this ten percent goal is achieved, investment in basic research could hit 225 billion yuan (US$34.5 billion) in 2020, more than triple 2015’s spending of US$10 billion. Furthermore, the new plan promises that R&D investment will account for 2.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2020, compared with 2.05 percent in 2014.
The article can be found at: Hao (2016) Five-year Plan Boosts Basic Research Funding.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Shutterstock.
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