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|Friday, August 18, 2000, updated at 14:39(GMT+8)|
Examining China's Sci-tech Innovative CapabilityEditors Notes:
In the 2000 "Report on International Competitiveness" published not long ago by the Lausanne International Management and Development research Institute, Switzerland, the placing of China's sci-tech competitiveness in this year's report glides by three figures to rank 28th following a sharp drop of 12 figures in 1999. How to objectively approach the ranking of competitiveness? And how to objectively approach China's sci-tech innovative ability and level? Now we select several passages from the article "Some Questions Concerning China's Current Scientific and Technological Development" written by the research group for the "Research Report (2000) on the Development of China's Science and Technology" for our readers' reference.
Compared with the ability of scientific research, currently various countries show more concern for technological innovative ability. While paying attention to innovative capability, we must not see only several indexes of input in science and technology, we must also be concerned about the situation regarding the ties between sci-technology and the industrial network, the innovative environment and the efficiency of the innovative system. In other words, only when we approach the matter from the angle of the State innovative system, can we make a relatively comprehensive judgment of the innovative ability of a country. Now we analyze China's sci-tech innovative ability and level from the four-faceted indexes of the scientific research and innovative input, scientific research and innovative output, the ties between sci-tech and industry, and infrastructure construction for technology.
While noticing China's rising scientific research and innovative capability, we must also see that there are still many deep-seated problems, which are manifest in the following aspects:
First, the investment made by industrial circles in scientific research and innovation is too meager and in a downward trend, this is a most urgent problem facing the construction of China's current technological innovative ability, As the force of the independent scientific research system is being continually run as an enterprise, how to quickly strengthen the enterprise's technological innovative capability will be crucial to the construction of China's innovative ability. This being the case, in the future, we should, by employing policy and incentive means, encourage enterprises to pay more attention to input in technological innovation.
Second, China's scientific research system is basically a system of low efficiency. Like State-owned enterprises, many scientific research institutions lack a set of effective management systems featuring the integration of responsibility, right and interest. Within the scientific research system, there exist many overstaff phenomena. Under such circumstance, how to transform scientific research institution into an institution with distinct property rights and clearly defined responsibility, right and interest still requires a fairly long period of time. But now is the right time to solve this problem.
Third, with regard to innovation and the allocation of resources, the funds put in the renovation and introduction of technology are much higher than funds for research and development, technological transformation is divorced from research and development, start-up investment is meager, funds put in talent are limited, the enterprise has not become the mainstay of research and development, and currently this is an outstanding contradiction.
Fourth, the network system of sci-tech and industry remains to be perfected. A salient feature of China's innovative system is that there are many cases of enterprises run by the sci-tech system itself, and few technological innovations are conducted jointly with enterprises. At present, the lack of mutual trust between innovative institutions is an important factor hindering the flow of knowledge. Meanwhile, the problems regarding structure and the ownership of intellectual property rights have, to some extent, obstructed the flow of knowledge between the sci-tech system and industrial department.
Fifth, the infrastructure facilities for scientific research and innovation is weak, especially in the aspect of information equipment, in the Internet aspect, however, China is catching up and overtaking their foreign counterparts at fast speed.
Finally, the talent crisis has currently appeared to be more prominent.
In correspondence with sci-tech innovative ability, the development of China's high-tech industries presents the following characteristics:
--High-speed growth of high-tech industries, but relatively low added value. Between 1994-98, the average annual increase rates of the added value of high-tech industries came in order as 9.4 percent, 27.7 percent, 17.6 percent, 21.7 percent and 17.1 percent. But because the key technologies and components and spare parts of China's high-tech industries rely mainly on imports and the country possesses few independent intellectual property products, therefore, their added value is relatively low. The proportion of the added value of high-tech industries in developed countries to the total output value generally exceeds 30 percent, whereas, the proportion of the added value of China's high-tech industries to the total output value in 1998 was only 23.9 percent, lower than the 25.6 percent level of the entire manufacturing industry.
--The competitiveness of high-tech industries has risen somewhat, but in the division of work in international industries, it is at a relatively low level. In terms of technical level, China's manufacture and automation technology lag behind developed industrial countries by 15-20 years; integrated circuit mass production technology is two generations behind the international level, a gap of 5-6 years. China mostly uses foreign products, such as computer chips, system software, video frequency compression and decompression chips and other key parts. This situation shows that China's high-tech industries are currently still in the stage of aggregate expansion, and there is a phased gap between China and advanced world level.
--High-tech industries have become a new economic growth point in some regions, but development is uneven between these regions and their structures are same.
--There is great market demand for high-tech products, the occupancy rate of the product market possessing independent intellectual property right is not high. China's high-tech products have an annual trade deficit close to US$10 billion. The patent right of high-tech industries is basically monopolized by foreign companies. The applications for invention patents China has received from various types of high-tech industrial fields are mostly foreign applications which accounted for 67.8 percent and 71.2 percent in 1997 and 1998 respectively.
--Sino-foreign joint ventures, Sino-foreign cooperative enterprises and solely foreign-funded enterprises hold an important position in high-tech industries. In 1998, the high-tech products of these types of enterprises made up 74 percent of the total export volume; viewed from the total export volume, the export handled by State-owned enterprises accounted for only 24.7 percent, whereas that of Sino-foreign enterprises and wholly foreign-funded enterprises made up 39.9 percent and 30.8 percent respectively. In terms of imports, the situation was just the opposite, the import by State-owned enterprises represented 40.5 percent of the total import volume, that of Sino-foreign joint ventures and that of solely foreign-owned enterprises comprised of 31.7 percent and 24.0 percent respectively.
With the date of China's entry into the WTO approaching, the system environment facing China's high-tech industries will undergo marked change which will directly affect the orientation, scale and speed of the future development of China's high-tech industries.
The intellectual property right protection agreement related to trade will further strengthen transnational companies' natural monopoly position in the supply of technology, and such technological monopoly right will naturally be transformed into market monopoly right, as a result, there will emerge more restrictive commercial practices in the transfer of technology, forcing enterprises to pay a higher cost for the supply of advanced foreign technologies. Chinese enterprises will thus face greater pressure of research and development, disputes over intellectual property rights will occur more frequently. From a long-term point of view, if we fail to strengthen sci-tech input and innovation of high-tech industries, China would likely not only become an assembly base for the high-tech products of transnational corporations, but will also rapidly become the largest high-tech products sales market in the world.
In a bid to enhance the competitiveness of China's high-tech industries, it is objectively necessary for us to speed up change in the relations of production and establish the sci-tech system, economic structure, the fund-raising and investing system and macro-management system suited to the new requirements for the development of productive forces, striving to create a good sci-tech environment for the development of technological development, we should pay high attention to knowledge and talent and to the establishment of a high-tech industry innovative system meeting the requirement of sci-tech globalization and improve our independent development ability.
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