R&D input to further fuel innovation
Updated: September 19, 2023 08:16 China Daily

China spent about 3.08 trillion yuan ($422.1 billion) in 2022 on research and development, an increase of 10.1 percent year-on-year, as the country remains steadfast in stepping up investment in basic research and striving for breakthroughs in crucial technologies, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The increased R&D input will further enhance Chinese enterprises' technological innovation capabilities and their core competitiveness on the global stage, and inject strong impetus into the country's economic recovery, experts said.

The NBS said on Monday that China's total spending on R&D accounted for 2.54 percent of its gross domestic product last year, up 0.11 percentage points from the previous year.

The ratio, which is between the European Union's average level of 2.2 percent and 2.7 percent of the economies of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranks 13th across the globe, said Zhang Qilong, an NBS statistician.

In 2022, the nation's investment in basic research stood at 202.35 billion yuan, up 11.4 percent year-on-year. It ranked second in the world, accounting for 6.57 percent of the total R&D spending, according to the NBS.

The increased spending on R&D shows China's commitment to implementing an innovation-driven development strategy, which will bolster its strength in science and technology, give it an upper hand in fierce international competition and foster new growth drivers, said Pan Helin, co-director of the Digital Economy and Financial Innovation Research Center at Zhejiang University's International Business School.

"Continuous investment in basic scientific research is key to driving high-quality economic growth and promoting the intelligent transformation and upgrading of traditional industries," Pan said, calling for giving full play to the leading role of enterprises in bolstering technological innovation.

Enterprises are expanding their investments in important sectors, laying a solid foundation for making breakthroughs in core technologies in key fields and improving fundamental industrial capabilities, according to the NBS. The R&D expenditure of enterprises reached 2.39 trillion yuan in 2022, up 11 percent year-on-year. It contributed to 84 percent of the country's R&D growth, an increase of 4.6 percentage points from the previous year.

The NBS added that the country will continue to increase financial support, encourage local authorities to increase R&D spending and improve the efficiency of capital utilization.

China's strength in sci-tech innovation has taken a qualitative leap in recent years. According to the 2022 Global Innovation Index released by the World Intellectual Property Organization, the country has risen to the 11th place and remains the only middle-income economy in the top 30.

However, Luo Zhongwei, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of Industrial Economics, said China still lags behind some developed countries in R&D spending on basic research. He emphasized the significance of "pouring more capital into nurturing high-tech talent and speeding up the industrialization of scientific and technological achievements".

More efforts should be made to beef up investment in technological frontiers and forward-looking fields, such as quantum information, artificial intelligence, biological sciences, new energy and new materials, and achieve technological breakthroughs in key fields through independent innovation amid a rising tide of protectionism in some countries, Luo added.

TCL Technology Group, a Chinese consumer electronics maker, said that its R&D expenditure reached 10.78 billion yuan in 2022, an increase of 22.9 percent year-on-year. The company vowed to continue to increase its investment in strategic emerging segments like new-generation display technology, new energy and semiconductor materials, and further improve its innovation capabilities.

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