12 of more than 2100 CPPCC members given prominent floor time, why? Part II

【6】Chen Wei

Chen gained national fame during the Covid pandemic as a leading scientist that led China’s vaccine development efforts. In her speech, she called for more resources for China’s tech innovation, particularly in the biotech field.

Chen summarized China’s disadvantages in biotechnology innovation as

顶层设计和科学统筹不足、研究力量分散,长效性支持机制不健全、基础研究不稳定,条件设施不完善、快速响应体系不健全等。

Lacking top-level design and scientific coordination, unconsolidated research forces, unsound long-term support mechanism, shaky basic research, insufficient hardware, and underdeveloped rapid response system.

She then laid out 4 recommendations:

建立国家重大安全科技攻关“白名单”制度。充分发挥新型举国体制优势,推动科研力量优化配置和资源共享,在生命健康、生物安全等重大前沿领域系统性地谋划重大项目布局,建立核心技术团队“白名单”,国家长期稳定投入,实现“项目—基地—人才”有机融合,为保障国家发展利益、破解重大安全风险、突破国外技术封锁奠定坚实科技基础。

Establishing “white list” system for major science research projects related to national security. Fully take advantage of new model whole-of-country approach, promote the optimal allocation of scientific research forces and resource sharing, systematically plan the layout of major projects in major frontier areas such as life and health technology and biosecurity, amont others. Establish a "white list" for core technology teams, and committ long-term stable national investment to achieve the organic integration of "project - base - talent". This white list method could lay a sound scientific foundation for the protection of national development interests, eliminating major security risks, and breaking through foreign technological blockade.

建设特需疫苗国家技术创新中心。国家科技部已印发《推进国家技术创新中心建设的总体方案(暂行)》,“十四五”期间布局建设若干国家技术创新中心。建议建设特需疫苗国家技术创新中心,紧扣国家生物安全防御重大需求,梳理“卡脖子”技术和“长板”技术,加强顶层设计和科学统筹,开展跨军地、跨领域、跨学科协同创新和开放合作,达到“已知有手段,未知有能力”,助力国家生物安全和社会稳定。

Constructing a National Technology Innovation Center for Special Needs Vaccines. The Ministry of Science and Technology has issued the "General Plan for Promoting the Construction of National Technological Innovation Center (Provisional)", which contains language for the construction of several national technological innovation centers during the 14th Five-Year Plan period. I’d recommend building a National Technology Innovation Center for Special Needs Vaccines, focusing on the major needs of national biosecurity defense, taking stock of "chokepoint" technologies and strong point technologies, strengthening top-level design and scientific coordination, carrying out cooperation between military and civil departments, different fields and disciplines, in order to achieve "have to know-how for known technologies, and have the ability to discover unknown technologies" and promote national biosecurity and social stability.

持续开展新冠疫情防控科研攻关。在以习近平同志为核心的中共中央坚强领导下,我国新冠疫情得到了全面控制,但从全球来看,防控形势依然严峻复杂,加强防控工作不能有一丝一毫的松懈。应继续加大科研攻关力度,综合运用生物技术和大数据、云计算、人工智能等创新手段,进一步厘清病毒起源、动物宿主和致病机制,深入分析病毒变异对现有防控措施的影响,未雨绸缪,开展针对重要变异毒株的疫苗、核酸和抗体检测试剂等预研,必要时及时更新换

Continuously carry out scientific research on the prevention and control of Covid-19. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, China's Covid epidemic has been fully controlled. But from a global perspective, the picture is much more complicated, therefore there should not be any slackening of the prevention and control measures. China should continue to increase scientific research efforts, the integrated use of biotechnology and big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and other innovative means to further clarify the origin of the virus, animal hosts and pathogenic mechanisms, carry out in-depth analysis of the impact of virus mutations on existing prevention and control measures, proactively to carry out pre-research for important mutant strains of vaccines, nucleic acids and antibody detection reagents, and make timely updates when necessary.

营造潜心基础研究的良好科研生态。大力弘扬科学家精神,努力营造有利于基础研究的良好创新生态,在项目攻关、平台建设和人才计划中,加大对长期坐“冷板凳”从事科研和基础研究工作的科学家和科研人员队伍的政策支持力度,激发大家勇于探索,心无旁骛地专注于前沿基础科学研究,实现越来越多“从0到1”的原创突破。鼓励更多的青年才俊淡泊名利、勇于创新,献身科学研究,为祖国更美好的明天发挥科技创新应有的支撑力量!

Fourth, to create a good research ecology dedicated to basic research. Vigorously promote the spirit of scientists, and strive to create a good innovation ecology conducive to basic research. Offer more support to those who work in basic research away from the spotlight in project research, platform construction, and talent programs. Inspire everyone to explore, without distractions to focus on the frontier, accomplish more breakthroughs from 0 to 1. Encourage more young talents to be indifferent to fame and fortune, to be innovative, to devote themselves to scientific research, and to play a supporting role in scientific innovation for a better future for our country!

As context, your host would just point to the remarks Chinese premier Li Keqiang made during the closing of the NPC, in which he echoed Chen’s opinion and touched on potential policy changes that can better incentivize scientists.

多年来,我国在科技创新领域有一些重大突破。在应用创新领域发展得也很快,但是在基础研究领域的确存在着不足。要建设科技强国,提升科技创新能力,必须打牢基础研究和应用基础研究这个根基。打多深的基才能盖多高的楼,不能急功近利,要一步一个脚印地走。

目前我国全社会研发投入占GDP的比重还不高,尤其是基础研究投入只占到研发投入的6%,而发达国家通常是15%到25%。我们下一步要加大基础研究的投入,还要继续改革科技体制。让科研人员有自主权,很重要的是要让科研人员有经费使用的自主权,不能把科研人员宝贵的精力花在填表、评比等事务上,还是要让他们心无旁骛去搞研究,厚积才能薄发。讲到这里,我想对青年学生们说几句话,不管你们将来从事什么职业、有什么样的志向,一定要注意加强基础知识学习,打牢基本功和培育创新能力是并行不悖的。

Over the years, China has made some major breakthroughs in the field of science and technology innovation. The field of applied innovation has also developed rapidly, but there is indeed a shortage in the field of basic research. To build a strong country in science and technology and enhance the ability of scientific and technological innovation, we must lay a solid foundation of basic research and applied basic research. The height of a building depends on the depth of the foundation, We must not rush, but go one step at a time.

At present, Chinese society’s investment in research and development as a proportion of GDP is not high, especially basic research investment only accounts for 6% of the investment in research and development, while developed countries are usually 15% to 25%. Our next step to increase investment in basic research, but also continue to reform the science and technology system. Let researchers have the autonomy, particularly the autonomy of disposing research funds. Researchers should not be mired with filling out forms, evaluation and other matters, but rather devote their full energy to research. The development comes from a sound foundation. Speaking of this, I would like to say a few words to the young students, no matter what career you will be engaged in, what kind of ambition you have, you must pay attention to strengthen the basic knowledge learning. Building solid basic skills and cultivate the ability to innovate is not contrary but a parallel.

【7】Huang Jiansheng

Huang’s main point was to preserve China’s food security. Namely, to make sure that China can feed its population under any scenario.

Huang makes four recommendations, make sure China has enough farmland, innovate China’s seed technology, incentivize farming and reduce grain spoilage:

建议进一步完善立法、严格执法,加大对乱占耕地和耕地“非农化”“非粮化”整治力度,坚决守住18亿亩红线……建议加强耕地质量科学创新,强化耕地保护利用科技平台建设,设立重大研发项目,为耕地合理利用和地力提升提供有效的科技支撑。

It is recommended to improve legislation, and strictly enforce laws to curb unlawful occupancy of arable land and the de-agriculturalization of arable land, and firmly guard the red line of maintaining at least 1.8 billion mu (appr. 300 mln acres) of farmland……It is recommended to strengthen scientific innovation to improve arable land quality, construction of scientific and technological platforms to promote arable land protection and utilization, and set up major R&D projects to provide effective scientific and technological support for the rational use of arable land and ground strength improvement.

从国家层面设立重大专项,集中资源、整合力量,强化育种基础性研究,尽快突破“卡脖子”关键核心技术。

Set up major special projects at the national level, pool resources, integrate forces, strengthen the basic research of breeding, as soon as possible to achieve breakthroughs in "chokepoint" technologies.

完善粮食主产区利益补偿机制,加大转移支付力度,对产粮大省、大市、大县按粮食产量和调出量予以奖励,鼓励加大土地流转力度、发展适度规模经营,支持发展食品精深加工业,让他们财政有收入、经济有发展,愿意多种粮。

Improve the compensation mechanism for main grain-producing areas, increase the transfer of payments, reward large grain-producing provinces, cities, and counties according to grain production and output, encourage greater land transfer, the development of moderate scale operations, support the development of food processing industry, so that they have financial income, economic development, and the will to grow more grain.

建议进一步完善现代粮食储备基础设施体系,做好相关利用、维护和改造升级工作,持续推动仓储智能化建设,减少温度湿度、鼠害虫害等原因造成的损失。在重点粮食调出省推广低温冷藏技术,坚持质量标准前提下,争取使小麦和稻谷的储存期限分别从5年和3年,延长到10年和5年。。

Further improve modern grain reserve infrastructure system, optimize utilization, maintenance and renovation and upgrading efforts, and continue to promote the construction of smart storage to reduce losses caused by temperature and humidity, rodent and insect damage. Promote low-temperature refrigeration technology in key grain output provinces so that the storage period of wheat and rice be extended from 5 and 3 years, respectively, to 10 and 5 years.

It’s fitting for Huang, who represents Heilongjiang province, to call for more attention to improving farming in China, as Heilongjiang has some of China’s most fertile land and produces some of China’s most prized rice.

Due to China’s history, which is marred by famine, the Chinese society places great emphasis on making sure that it produces enough grain to feed the entire population.

Your host would also point to the second recommendation by Huang, which stresses the importance of innovating China’s seed technology, as the concept of seed security is gaining more traction.

"No. 1 central document" for 2021, released by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, stated that China shall “win the battle of the seed industry and overtake others” (打好种业翻身仗).

Also on this front, China is to finish building crop seed bank this year (Xinhua English story here).

【8】Ma Yongsheng

Though Ma is the head of Sinopec, one of China’s main fossil fuel suppliers, his speech very much focuses on non-fossil fuel energy, which he argues China will need to rely on in order to achieve better energy independence.

Ma described China’s disadvantages in the energy sector as follows:

一是能源结构不合理。化石能源占比过高,2020年煤炭消费占比仍达56.7%,石油、天然气分别为19.1%和8.5%,非化石能源为15.7%。

二是石油、天然气自给能力不强。我国是油气进口第一大国,2020年对外依存度分别攀升到73%和43%。

三是能源资源与消费市场逆向分布。煤炭、油气、水电等主要分布在华北、西北、西南,而能源消费主要集中在东南,制约了能效提升。

四是科技创新支撑引领不够。能源生产消费领域基础和原始创新能力不强,一些关键核心技术和装备受制于人,存在“卡脖子”风险。

  1. Fossil fuel makes up too much of China’s energy consumption. In 2020, coal makes up 56.7% of China’s energy source, while petroleum and natural gas make up 19.1% and 8.5% respectively. Nonfossile fuel energy makes up 15.7%.

  2. Over-dependence on foreign fossil fuel. In 2020, foreign petroleum and natural gas make up 73% and 43% of all Chinese consumption.

  3. A mismatch between the energy-producing regions and the major energy-consuming regions. China’s energy is mostly generated in the north, northwest, and southwest, while the biggest energy-consuming region lies in the southeast.

  4. Technological shortfalls. China still relies on foreign know-how in regards to core tech and equipment, which puts China in face of “choking point” risks.

To tackle the problems, Ma called for 4 initiatives, your host will paraphrase his words here to avoid confusing you with tedious official language.

一是突出节约优先,着力提高能源利用效率。提高能效是降碳重要手段,把节能优先方针贯穿经济社会发展全过程各领域,坚持能源消费总量和强度双控制度,抓实工业、电力、交通、建筑等重点领域,加快油气“全国一张网”建设,升级高效节能设备,淘汰落后产能,完善价格、税收、金融等政策,以市场化手段倒逼提升能效。大力培育节能文化,倡导绿色生产生活方式,使全体人民成为绿色低碳生活的参与者、实践者、推动者,加快建设能源节约型社会。

First, prioritize conservation and improve energy efficiency. Ma called for more energy-efficient equipment to be used, create economic incentives for energy conservation, and promote “a culture of energy conservation.”

二是加快结构优化,立足国内保障能源供给。以清洁低碳为导向,加快发展非化石能源,构建煤、油、气、核、新能源、可再生能源多元化能源供应体系,使非化石能源到2025年成为消费增量的主体,能源体系到2030年前实现碳达峰、2060年前实现碳中和。汲取风、光等产业教训,加强新能源发展顶层设计,建立行业标准、监管和政策支持体系,避免“一哄而上”,防止“烂尾工程”;大力发展氢能,既要用好工业副产氢,更要加快推进可再生能源电解水制氢,不断提升“绿氢”比例;发挥我国地热资源优势,纳入国家发展规划,实现规模高效利用。深化煤炭清洁高效利用,由燃料向原料转变并区别对待,不搞一刀切“压限”,统筹现代煤化工战略发展;坚持把油气作为重要战略资源,完善勘探开发机制,提升储备能力,大力开发页岩油气、煤层气,推进天然气大发展,守住原油产量2亿吨底线。

Second, optimize China’s energy consumption structure. Ma called for faster development of non-fossil energy, and establish a diverse energy supply of coal, petroleum, natural gas, nuclear, new energy, and renewable energy. By the year 2025, non-fossil energy should make up the majority of recremental consumption.

Ma particularly raised the lessons learned from the wind and solar energy industries, saying that an overarching strategy should be developed and a regulatory regime implemented, to avoid disorderly investment and underachieving results.

Ma also emphasized the development of hydrogen energy, especially accelerate the production of hydrogen by electrolysis, and better utilize China’s geothermal energy. Ma also mentioned the development of shale oil and gas, coal-bed methane.

三是坚持自立自强,加快提升科技创新水平。把科技自主创新作为能源发展的战略支撑,深化能源科技创新平台建设,构建形成以企业为主体、市场为导向、产学研用深度融合的技术创新体系,确保产业链供应链安全稳定,牢牢把握能源发展主动权。重点围绕氢能等新能源生产消费、油气勘探开发、煤炭清洁高效利用、智能电网运行、分布式能源建设等领域,加大政策支持力度,集中攻克一批关键核心技术和装备,支撑引领能源行业高质量发展。

Third, Ma called for technology innovation, recommending policy support for innovations in the sectors of hydrogen production, oil and gas exploration, and development, clean and efficient utilization of coal, smart grid operation, distributed energy construction.

四是深化国际合作,着眼全球拓宽能源渠道。在立足国内前提下,着眼国内国际双循环相互促进,在能源生产、消费领域加强国际合作,增强开放条件下的保障能力,确保“买得到”“运得回”。以“一带一路”为重点,深化重大项目合作,建设一批长期可靠、安全稳定的海外能源基地。深度参与全球能源治理,加强与国际能源组织合作,发挥能源市场战略买家力量,增强与我国油气消费能力相匹配的定价权和话语权,提高全球配置资源能力。

Forth, enhancing international cooperation, expanding sources of energy to satisfy Chinese demand. Ma recommended a series of overseas energy bases be built, especially in Belt and Road countries, to ensure energy can be reliably purchased and shipped. Ma also said China should try to improve its bargaining power in the global energy market as a major energy consumer.

【9】Wei Zhenling

Wei hailed the accomplishment of China’s anti-poverty campaign, which saw the successful eradication of extreme poverty in China.

Wei said she belonged to Mao’nan ethnic group, and suffered from poverty when she was little. She recounted her first-person point of view in witnessing the living standard of those around her gradually raise in recent years.

She noted that to elevate communities out of poverty, the Chinese government sponsored road projects, clean water pipelines, schools, and medical facilities, and helped communities find industries that could sustain their livelihood.

【10】Liu Jiacheng

Liu is a celebrated TV series director known for his works depicting the everyday lives of ordinary people, most set in Beijing.

Your host has watched some of his work and if there will one-day be a newsletter on must-watch Chinese TV dramas for China watchers as Zichen Wang suggested, Liu’s work will highly likely be included.

Arts, or especially cinematics, has always played a key role in the Chinese government’s outreaching effort to the public. The Chinese government and the CPC routinely commission TV dramas or movies that reflect China’s achievements.

But, as some would argue, government-backed cinematic projects have been losing the acclaim that they once enjoyed, and there is a sense of urgency for movie makers or TV drama directors to come up with better quality work to fulfill the role.

According to Liu, the industry must maintain cultural confidence, focus on themes with real-life implications, immerse itself among the mass, and hone its artistic technique, in order to excel in producing quality work that could “promote righteous values” in society.

This newsletter is penned by Yang Liu.