BEIJING, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- "Scientific innovation" has become a buzz phrase for Chinese leaders in the past week, as the nation strives to restructure its economy in exchange for sustainable development.
On Thursday, Premier Li Keqiang reiterated the issue while joining a discussion gathering outstanding young scientists from across China, spurring them to be productive and nurture new economic growth points.
Li called on scientific personnel to start their own businesses, offer more jobs and provide the products and services that Chinese people are increasingly consuming.
"Talent, especially young talent... is the future of China's innovation," he said.
INNOVATION IN MOST URGENT REQUIREMENT
China can not continue to develop based on factor costs and heavy consumption of natural resources, and technology must play a greater role in economic and social progress, President Xi Jinping said on Monday at a major meeting on financial affairs.
China's economy expanded by 7.7 percent in 2013, which was the same rate as the previous year and the lowest since 1999.
In the first quarter of this year, exports dropped and growth was at its lowest in six quarters. Data for the second quarter improved only slightly.
Chinese leaders are sober about the economic situation both at home and across the world. "The government is striving for a delicate balance between maintaining stable economic growth on the one hand and advancing reforms on the other," said Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank.
Not for the first time, Chinese leaders have been stressing innovation to drive economic transition.
Xi has put forward requirements on implementing an innovation-driven development strategy, urging authorities to make breakthroughs first on core technologies and narrow their focus to specific programs and projects.
"The most prominent problem currently haunting China's industrial structure is excess production capacity, while a major cause for the problem is lack of ability to innovate," said Jiang Changyun, a researcher with the National Development and Reform Commission.
"It's more urgent than at any other time that we carry out innovation-driven development," he said.
Scientific talent is the key force for promoting innovation.
President Xi stressed the need to come up with better incentives for innovation among scientific staff and entrepreneurs.
China has about 60 million technical personnel, but very few can be counted as highly skilled.
"The 'deficit' of talent and that talent's outflow have impeded the realization of a series of international strategic goals," noted Wang Huiyao, director of the Center for China and Globalization, a non-profit independent think-tank.
Wang suggested fine-tuning the policy concerning foreign skilled workers' entrance and stay in China.
In fact, China's dedication to international talent is seen in its move to relax its green card policy.
Central authorities are considering lower application and approval standards for foreigners' permanent residence. They will also issue more of their "talent visas" for high-caliber professionals from abroad, allowing them to enjoy a longer stay and more convenience in their work in China.
Since 2008, 4,180 foreign experts have come to China through the "Recruitment Program of Global Experts." Similar recruitment projects have been agreed on this year.
At Thursday's meeting, Li Keqiang said authorities should increase support for outstanding youth. "Authorities should support talent more and intervene less," he added.
Li especially urged governments to protect scientists' intellectual property rights so that concerns over rights infringement and plagiarism do not put them off from innovating.
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