Promoting high-quality development is one of China’s priorities outlined by Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Monday.
China’s development has provided its people with basic needs and will strive for improving their quality of life in the next step, the new premier said at a press conference after the closing of the first session of the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC).
The development will particularly focus on improving technological innovation capabilities, building a modern industrial system, and promoting the green transition of development methods, Li said.
China’s national legislature has approved a reform plan for the institutions of the State Council, including restructuring its Ministry of Science and Technology, establishing a national data bureau, reforming intellectual property administration, and more.
Achieve self-reliance faster
The reform of the Ministry of Science and Technology includes better allocation of resources to tackle challenges in core technologies and move faster toward greater self-reliance in science and technology.
Sci-tech innovation plays a core role in China’s modernization construction, State Councilor and Secretary-General of the State Council Xiao Jie said at the first session of the 14th NPC.
Facing international sci-tech competition and external containment and suppression, China needs to further smooth its leadership and management system for science and technology-related work, Xiao said.
A number of existing functions and agencies subordinate to the ministry will be transferred to other governmental bodies.
“After the adjustment, the functions of the ministry will be more centralized, which enables it to play a bigger role in macro management,” Xue Lan, dean of Schwarzman Scholars, Tsinghua University, said in an interview with China Newsweek.
The ministry will remain managing the National Natural Science Foundation, in charging of management work of basic research, basic infrastructure and major projects, and tackling technological bottlenecks that need to mobilize national resources, he added.
As part of the reform, the restructured ministry will assume responsibilities as the working body of a newly established central science and technology commission.
The commission is to set up to “better unify, coordinate and mobilize various sectors,” said Hong Xianghua, a professor at the Party School of the CPC, said in an interview with China Media Group.
“It will play a good role in realizing China’s self-reliance in science and technology and pooling strength to make breakthroughs in key technologies under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC),” he said.
Integrate data resources to boost digital economy
China will set up a national data bureau, which is another significant move in the reform plan.
The bureau will be responsible for advancing the development of data-related fundamental institutions, coordinating the integration, sharing, development, and application of data resources, and pushing forward the planning and building of a digital China, digital economy, and digital society, among others.
Duan Haixin, a professor at the Institute for Network Sciences and Cyberspace at Tsinghua University, believes the bureau will improve the efficiency of data management and governance by coordinating and developing data exchange standards.
This will help improve data application and sharing, digging data value and boosting data application efficiency to support China in developing a digital economy and society, he explained.
The professor expects the bureau will promote innovation in data application and industrial development, such as big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things.
China aims to make important progress in constructing a digital China by 2025 and rank among the top nations in digital development by 2035, according to a digital development plan released on February 27.
Data security is an important issue in the digital age, and the bureau can provide stronger protection for data security to prevent data leakage and abuse, Duan said.
He sees the establishment of the bureau as a “proactive and positive action in a global scale.”
“The action can further promote the construction of a global data governance system for services to global data security and governance,” he added.
Protect IPR for better innovation
Aiming at adapting to the demand of building a country of innovation, China will improve the management mechanism for intellectual property rights (IPR) to upgrade IPR creation, application, protection, and management.
The China National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA), currently administered by the State Administration for Market Regulation, will be adjusted into an institution directly under the State Council.
This would help the CNIPA focus more on improving the quality of granted patents and trademarks to better promote innovation and high-quality development, said Zhang Weijun, a professor of law at Zhejiang University.
China rolled out a plan for IPR protection in September 2021, striving for increasing its intellectual property competitiveness to be among the top nations by 2035.
According to the World Intellectual Property Organization, China led the world in international patent application volume in 2022, filing over 70,000 applications under its Patent Cooperation Treaty for patent protection.
From the reorganization of the Ministry of Science and Technology to the establishment of the national data bureau, and the upgraded position of CNIPA, “all these adjustments are aimed at reinforcing China’s sci-tech innovation strength and serve for the national strategy to realize self-reliance in science and technology, against the backdrop of major opportunities in the new scientific and technological revolution and intensified geopolitical external challenges,” said Xue.