Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Sunday that the central government will allocate 71.6 billion yuan this year for investment in science and technology, representing an increase of 19.2 percent year-on-year.
"China has entered a stage in its history where it must increase its reliance on scientific and technological advances and innovation to drive social and economic development," Premier Wen told the opening ceremony of the Fourth Session of China's Tenth National People's Congress (NPC).
The steep increase of investment was proposed after China announced its ambition earlier this year to become one of the leading science powers in the world by 2050, sci-tech policy expert Jia Kang said.
"The investment increase is expected to serve as a jump-start for the country's drive toward an 'innovative country,'" said Jia, director of the Institute of Fiscal Science under the Ministry of Finance.
In his government work report, Premier Wen said China will establish a mechanism to ensure stable growth of government investment in science and technology. "Local governments and enterprises also need to increase their investment," he said.
According to the Outline of the 11th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development also tabled with lawmakers for examination and approval, China will in the next five years launch a number of major scientific and technological projects in strategic industries such as information technology and biotechnology, and projects to address important, pressing problems in energy, resources, the environment and the health of the people, as well as technologies with both military and civilian applications.
These projects are of "major and immediate significance and will have far-reaching importance" for speeding up the solution of crucial scientific and technological problems with a bearing on China's overall situation and long-term development, and raising the overall technological level in those areas, Wen said.