State needs to catch up on the innovation front

2020-12-23 12:07:14

Visitors try 5G smartphones at the exhibition area of ZTE Corp during the 2020 World 5G Convention in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, on Nov 27. The central government has called for more efforts to expand 5G network coverage across China. LI ZHIHAO/FOR CHINA DAILY The Central Economic Work Conference, which concluded on Friday, calls for giving full play to the State's role as an organizer in key technology research and innovation that should be able to meet the needs of the country's development strategy and help resolve significant problems affecting the country's development and security. China has unique institutional advantages in mobilizing national resources to pursue key breakthroughs in science and technology. For instance, the State has assumed a crucial role in boosting its development in aerospace and high-speed railway industries. However, the State's innovation system is not equipped for the country to catch up with the leading players in some technologies that have "seized the country by its throat", such as those related to semiconductors and microchips, so the Chinese enterprises in the relevant industries should be encouraged to play a principal role in this regard. Enterprise-led innovation is more in tune with the market's needs, and has a higher efficiency in operation. As long as the government creates a suitable environment, the companies in an industrial chain can naturally form a healthy pro-innovation ecology for their drive to survive competitions. Apart from supporting the development of the few giants that the United States has put in its cross-hair, the country should do more to assist the development of its small and medium-sized enterprises, for they are not only the major job makers and taxpayers, but also the main innovators. However, it is still difficult for them to access funds from financial agencies or get listed in the stock market, and the constant rise in costs of labor, land and resources adds to their burden. As such, to boost innovation, the country should in the first place reform its pro-innovation mechanism, in which the State system, big corporations as well as smaller companies all have their part to play. There is also the need for collaboration among them. That being said, China still has enormous potentials to unlock to foster innovation.