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Premier: China at critical time of strengthening basic research

Updated: Jul 20,2021 21:01

China is at a critical moment to call for greater efforts in basic research, Premier Li Keqiang said on July 19 at a symposium while inspecting the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC).

Set up in the 1980s, the NSFC is China's "primary source" of support for basic research, offering a wide range of stable funds over the years. Its development witnessed a shift in allocating scientific and technological resources from "planned distribution" to "merit-based competition".

Boost education in basic subjects to nurture more talents in basic research

Premier Li heard reports from the NSFC's Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, the Science Funds Information Management Platform and the Department of Interdisciplinary Sciences.

"We know you have always paid much attention to math. Our department was the first division of the NSFC, and it sits at the core as an important part of basic sciences," the head of the Department of Mathematical and Physical Sciences told the Premier.

"Math is stressed because natural sciences started with math, and so did the journey of human civilization into science," Premier Li said. "Math can be regarded as the foundation of all sciences. In fact, many bottlenecks come down to basic research."

Efforts should be made to boost education in basic subjects, such as math, physics, chemistry and biology, to cultivate more professionals specializing in basic research, and use multiple ways to introduce those with outstanding performance for great advances in basic research, the Premier said.

Attach importance to basic research, original innovation

China has made great progress in applied science and technologies, in particular application scenarios combined with the market, some even taking the lead in the world, Premier Li said.

He added basic research and original innovation, which remain less superior, should be placed in a key position.

He requires deepening reform to stimulate social creativity, bringing more good results in science and technology to bolster national development and people's better livelihoods.

China has entered the critical period for intensifying basic research, which serves as the cornerstone of original innovation and development of science and technologies, as well as industries, the Premier said.

The opportunity cannot be missed, he said.

Nowadays, international circumstances are witnessing great changes, and many bottlenecks of industrial technologies in China stem from weakness in original innovation, he noted.

Scientific researchers should work with persistent concentration

Premier Li said science is a long-term accumulation, especially basic science, and it is hard to make breakthroughs even in three to five years. And solving basic scientific problems requires down-to-earth work, he added.

A good and research-oriented ecosystem should be built, Premier Li said, to advocate scientific spirit, respect rules, encourage innovation, and tolerate failures, enabling researchers to put all their energy into basic research and original innovation.

Highlighting international cooperation to absorb all the leading achievements of mankind, Premier Li said, breakthroughs in basic research, especially original innovation, largely rely on previous results, and all researchers should have persistent concentration to make due contributions to the country, the nation and mankind.