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Dalian, People’s Republic of China, 2 July 2019 – China’s meteoric rise on the global scientific stage made waves during discussions at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions today, with industry leaders around the world lauding China’s huge investment in research, innovation, and commitment to long-term international scientific collaboration.
In the past decade, China has doubled its research spending and overtaken the US with the largest number of researchers in any country, on the back of President Xi Jinping’s vision of a knowledge-driven economy.
“Science and innovation will be a driving force for China, a model of economic growth for the country,” noted Hu Zhijian, President of the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development. “China wants to build the country into a knowledge-based economy and science will play a pivotal part in this process.”
Hu described China’s scientific research as a critical component of the country’s Belt and Road Initiative – one he envisions as a key piece of infrastructure that will benefit other developing economies and facilitate more green technologies to tackle climatic challenges. Hu further emphasized the need for deepened scientific collaboration on a global scale, a sentiment echoed by scientists, industry experts and policy-makers at the meeting.
“Science is not owned by anyone; it is a byproduct of human curiosity and being able to collaborate is imperative,” noted Sarah bint Yousif Al-Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Sciences of the United Arab Emirates, “More than 60% of our research is international collaboration, and we understand the value of different scientists from diverse backgrounds to push the boundaries of scientific discovery.”
Liu Ying, Assistant Professor at Peking University, agreed, likening China’s deepened global collaborations in the scientific sphere to the human genome project. “Science,” she said, “Has no borders or boundaries.”
Highlighting a recent initiative to create innovative laboratories for researchers and scientists in Shanghai, Melinda Richter, Global Head of JLABS at Johnson & Johnson, highlighted the importance of translating research into the real world.
“What is important about science is impact. When we think about our health, all around the world we have a surging increase in chronic diseases, from diabetes to obesity, infectious diseases, cancer, mental health; and these are really big problems,” explained Richter, “It takes 8-12 years to get a drug to market and billions of dollars, so the only way these local entrepreneurs have a shot at making a difference is if we come together and invest.”
Citing agreements between China and the European Research Council to foster more international collaboration, Council President Jean-Pierre Bourguignon argued that being open is the right way to develop science at the highest level, and China’s open approach is driving a new environment of partnerships and an international perspective shift.
Bourguignon added: “It is very important that people realize that, if they are serious about really developing science in Europe, they have to look not only to the West but also to the East and, in particular, China.”
The World Economic Forum’s 13th Annual Meeting of the New Champions is taking place on 1-3 July 2019 in Dalian, People’s Republic of China. Convening under the theme, Leadership 4.0: Succeeding in a New Era of Globalization, more than 1,800 business leaders, policy-makers and experts from over 80 countries will participate and explore more than 200 sessions.
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