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Premier urges enhancing basic studies, advancing reforms for greater creativity

Updated: Jul 20,2021 09:13 PM    english.www.gov.cn

Efforts should be made to promote the spirit of science, boost basic studies and advance reforms to stimulate the creativity of scientific researchers, Premier Li Keqiang said on July 19.

Premier Li, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks while inspecting the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) and chairing a symposium.

He heard reports on how the NSFC has helped reduce scientific researchers’ burdens in project application and strengthened support to key fields through reform.

Established 35 years ago, the foundation started with a historic shift from "planned distribution" to "merit-based competition" in allocating scientific and technological resources, Premier Li said.

A planned system will not work for scientific and technological innovation, the Premier said, urging continued reforms to improve project review and evaluation systems, inspire personnel in scientific research to dive into basic studies with courage and patience, and facilitate the development of interdisciplinary sciences.

By better harnessing the important role of the foundation, precious funds can support scientific research more effectively, he said.

After hearing reports from persons in charge of NSFC and speeches from some experts, Premier Li required related departments to take their opinions and suggestions seriously.

While lauding China’s ongoing breakthroughs in scientific and technological innovation, the Premier called for deepening reforms to increase enthusiasm for innovation and creation across society, with innovation at the core of China’s modernization drive to produce more scientific and technological achievements that can benefit the country’s development and its people.

Premier Li said current international circumstances are witnessing great changes, and China still has a number of weak links in scientific and technological development. And many bottlenecks of industrial technologies stem from weakness in original innovation, he added.

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

The opportunity cannot be missed, he added.

Premier Li urged efforts to center on building a strong modern country, and give a big push toward basic research with an increased sense of urgency.

He also called for promoting the spirit of science, adhering to seeking the truth, respecting rules, and striving for excellence with rigor.

The Premier called on researchers to work without distractions, never be satisfied and afraid of failure, strengthen international cooperation, and scale the heights of science and technology with unremitting efforts.

He said financial input in basic research should be steadily increased and tax incentives will be applied to motivate enterprises in basic research and applied basic research with more efforts to study basic theoretical issues constraining industrial development.

Special funds should be allocated to encourage researchers to raise and study key issues in frontier areas, he said.

Premier Li also called for more work to improve education in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology to cultivate more talents for basic research and introduce outstanding talent from multiple channels.

Removing institutional barriers on scientific development and administration streamlining in the field should be continued and deepened, Premier Li said.

According to the Premier, budget preparation and evaluation on scientific projects will be simplified, and virement, spending standards, and horizontal fund management will be delegated to lower levels.

The performance expenditure in indirect costs will be raised, especially in mathematics, physics, and other theoretical research projects, with better management in profit distribution for scientific achievements, Premier Li said.

Talent should be valued, he added, and scientists should be allowed to determine their subjects, teams, fund use centering on major strategic needs and frontier areas.

Supervision on scientific research funds should highlight performance and result, Premier Li said.

Vice-Premier Liu He, State Councilor Xiao Jie, and He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, also participated.

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