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Premier Li stresses focus on research, innovation

Hu Yongqi
Updated: Jan 18,2017 8:02 AM     China Daily

Premier Li Keqiang shakes hands with actor Ge You after a seminar in Beijing on Jan 16, 2017. Representatives from the fields of education, art and literature, among others, put forward suggestions for drafting the annual Government Work Report.[Photo by Wu Zhiyi/China Daily]

Premier Li Keqiang pledged to grant universities and research institutions more independence in teaching and research, and to raise subsidies for graduate students pursuing master’s degrees or doctorates, as part of efforts to boost basic research and innovation.

The Premier was speaking at a meeting on Jan 16 to solicit suggestions for the annual Government Work Report in March from representatives in the fields of education, science, culture, sports and healthcare as well as startup businesses, according to a statement released on Jan 17.

Premier Li vowed to continue the national strategy of innovation-driven development and to fully implement a policy that gives universities and research institutes more room to make self-determined choices on classes and research.

He also suggested increasing support for institutes by granting favorable policies and funds, and encouraging scientists to be deeply involved in basic research.

It was the third time within a year that the Premier has emphasized the autonomy of teaching and research for universities and the significance of basic research, following his visits to Peking University and Tsinghua University in April.

Currently, each doctorate degree candidate receives 1,080 yuan ($157) in subsidies per month, much less than that received by counterparts in the United States, said Shi Yigong, vice-president of Tsinghua University, who previously worked at Princeton University.

In response, Premier Li called on the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance to make proposals for raising subsidies, which he said he believes will encourage young talents.

Huang Wei, president of Nanjing University of Technology, suggested basic research and innovation be encouraged among the younger generation.

Some celebrities were among eight speakers at the meeting, including actor Ge You and Liu Guoliang, head coach of the Chinese national table tennis team. In response to Ge’s suggestion of expanding the domestic film market, Premier Li said regulatory barriers will be removed to promote the movie and other cultural industries.

“Chinese are increasingly interested in cultural activities,” Premier Li said.

Therefore, the government should seek suggestions on promoting balanced social and economic development, meeting the public’s diverse demands and addressing their biggest concerns, he added.

Xia Xueluan, a professor of sociology at Sanya University in Hainan province, said Premier Li’s responses demonstrated that the government is attaching greater importance to basic research and innovation, cultural industries and people’s well-being.