Innovation to equip China with high tech
Updated: March 9, 2021 10:54 China Daily

Innovation, which is gaining prominence at China's key political gatherings, will be able to propel the country into the ranks of high-tech nations, a business association leader says.

"Through two decades of transformation, China has elevated itself from a manufacturer of household products, cheap accessories and electronics to become the global leader in new-age innovations," said Dar Wong, vice-president of the Singapore chapter of the ASEAN-China Commerce Association, an organization that aims to promote business ties between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Wong noted China has made progress in innovations such as satellite technology, tele-networking, supercomputers and fintech, which allow it to occupy a stronger position in the global industry value chain.

"All these past achievements will help to lay a stronger path to future development and propel China to becoming a high-tech country," he said.

The 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) under discussion at the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee sets out a blueprint for becoming a global front-runner in scientific and technological innovation. China's lawmakers and political advisers are exploring the issue at this year's two sessions.

Noting that the world is moving into a digital economy and that China has led the foray into 5G and related industries using artificial intelligence, China can make bigger strides in global innovation by getting deeper into the combined use of AI, cloud storage and big data analytics, he said.

China is expected to have 450 million 5G connections by 2025, the most worldwide, according to the Global System for Mobile Communications Association.

China ranked 14th among 131 economies in the 2020 edition of the Global Innovation Index, released by the World Intellectual Property Organization in September, and was the only middle-income economy in the top 30.

But Wong said challenges will continue to emerge in China's journey of innovation due to resistance from Western economies, which he attributes to "the fear of lagging behind China's rapid growth".

The rise of China's digital economy can create benefits for the whole of Asia.
For example, noting that China has recently joined countries like Thailand to explore cross-border transactions, Wong said more groundbreaking technologies can be tested and implemented between China and ASEAN states, helping economic transformation throughout the region.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

China can also enhance its cooperation with participating countries in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the world's largest free trade pact.

Wong said some essential sectors like renewable energy, food technology, water resources, fintech and tech-enabled infrastructure will be the top arenas for cross-border cooperation.

In addition, as the COVID-19 pandemic has made people across the world alter their lifestyles and accelerated the use of technology, Wong sees the need for more innovation in areas such as virtual facilities.

Wong said establishing cooperation in innovation among countries means the possibility of building a harmonized and economic community.

"Stepping into the future, it is important to enforce peace and progress together into a new world that cherishes the target of the same economic goal, thus uplifting the lifestyle and preserving the culture of all human races," Wong said.

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