Innovative country building: A major strategic choice for China’s future development
To enhance independent innovation and build an innovative country is a major strategy for the future proposed by the Chinese government based on the comprehensive analysis of the global development trend and the historical stage that China is in. The establishment of an independent innovation development strategy is a major choice that follows the development trend of the world economy and science and technology globalization based on China’s national and practical conditions. Independent innovation is not only a major strategy for the development of science and technology but also an important strategy for economic development. Strengthening independent innovation means that China’s future development mode will shift from resource-dependent to innovation-driven growth and from natural resource development to human resource development. Taking this as a driving force, the quality of China’s economic development has been greatly enhanced on the basis of its existing level. Its economic structure will be further upgraded, and a path of sustainable development featuring resource-saving, environment-friendly, and social harmonious will emerge.
Innovative country building: China’s major strategic choice oriented for future development
Taking the path of independent innovation and building an innovative country is a major strategic choice of China to face to the future and is a major strategic decision concerning the overall situation of socialist modernization. The important decisions made by the Central Committee of Communist Party of China and the State Council in building an innovative country are determined by China’s special national conditions and development paths, the strategic objectives of modernization, and the current and future international competitive environment in the country. These are the basis for building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects in the country, which is the inevitable requirement for China to transform economic development mode and to meet the new challenges of globalization.
The inevitable requirement of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects
The history of the economic development in the modern world shows that the role and contribution of technological innovation to the economic growth of a country (region) has become increasingly prominent. Since the mid-twentieth century, with the rapid development of the new technological revolution, the global economic growth has far exceeded the sum of economic growth in all previous years. At present, the contribution rates of technological progress in developed countries are all above about 70%. New products and new technologies have become an important source of power and a major source of support for economic growth.
In the past 30 years since the reform and opening up, China’s economy has achieved sustained and rapid growth of more than 9% annually. One of the important reasons is that technological progress has become an increasingly important factor in promoting economic growth. The contribution rate of technological progress to China’s economic growth over the past 20 years was 39%. The 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China clearly set forth the development goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. This means bringing a large country with one- fifth of the global population into a richer and civilized society. This is the most arduous and ambitious process of social progress in human history, and it fundamentally broadens its strategic vision of technological development. It has been estimated that in order to meet the requirements of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects, China must maintain the rapid economic growth of over 7% for 40 consecutive years since the reform and opening up. This is unprecedented in the history of world economic development for a large nation. Research shows that if the capability of science and technology innovation of China is not fundamentally improved, and the contribution rate of science and technology progress remains at the current level of 39%, then to achieve the goal of quadrupling the national economy requires an investment rate of 52%, but this is basically impossible. Even if the investment rate can maintain a high level of about 40% in recent years, the contribution rate of science and technology progress must reach 60%, that is, to increase the contribution rate of science and technology by 20% or more at present basis in order to achieve the economic growth targets required for building a moderately prosperous country in all aspects.
Building a moderately prosperous country in all aspects means that China’s per capita GDP has risen from 1,000 US dollars to 3,000 US dollars. International experience shows that the transition from low-income countries to middle-income countries (800-3,000 US dollars) is the most dramatic change in economic and social structure. This is a crucial period for industrialization. The marginal contribution of traditional factors of production, such as labor, capital, and land resources, to the growth of the economy will be decreasing. The importance of scientific progress and technological innovation will be significantly enhanced, and innovation increasingly becomes the leading factor in supporting and guiding economic and social development. This may not only be an important period of opportunity for the rapid economic and social development, but also be a period in which various economic and social conflicts are concentrated.
As to important development opportunities, China will enter a period of rapid economic growth and rapid development of scientific and technological strength during this period. Rapid economic growth and continuous social progress will drive economic and social restructuring and create the inherent demand for further economic and social development. At the same time, investment in science and technology has entered a period of rapid growth. The history of the developed countries shows that when per capita GDP reaches 1,000 US dollars and the ratio of R&D investment to GDP reaches 1%, the demand for science and technology from the social and economic development continues to increase, which will lead to the increase of investment in science and technology, and exceed the increase in GDP. In return, advances in science and technology will continuously improve scientific and technological competitiveness and national competitiveness, and the national competition will move from a low-level development stage to a high-level development stage. However, there was also high development risk and uncertainty during this period, highlighted by the concentration of social conflicts and the further aggravation of conflicts between social and economic development and resources and the environment. From the perspective of the development of China in this period, the large population base and the high growth rate have led to heavy employment pressure; the drastic changes in social structure, especially the acceleration of China’s urbanization, have brought new problems, such as a large number of underemployed people in rural areas who need to be transferred. At the same time, with the rapid economic and social development, the demand for resources has also risen rapidly, leading the ecology and environment under a new round of social and economic development pressure.
There will be more serious imbalances between urban and rural development and regional development. The income gap between urban and rural areas, regions, and different groups will continue to widen, and the polarization of social distribution will intensify. The Gini coefficient that reflects the gap between the rich and the poor has increased from 0.33 in 1980 to 0.45 in recent years and has exceeded the internationally recognized warning line. Especially between urban and rural areas, the income gap between urban and rural residents in 2007 has exceeded 3.33:1. For years, with the rapid growth of national economy and the rapid development of social undertakings, the imbalance has become increasingly serious. The status of social development lagging behind that of economic development has not been substantially changed. Conflicts in population, employment, income distribution, and public services can easily lead to social conflicts and social stability. A World Bank report warned that unless strong measures are taken, China’s Gini coefficient will further rise to 0.47 by 2020, which will not only weaken the support of low-income groups for further reform and opening up of the country but will also affect the stability of society.
Under such a new development situation, there are two possibilities for development: maintaining a sustained rapid economic growth over a longer period of time and achieving notable improvement in the overall quality of the people, smooth industrialization, and modernization; and building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. Or contradictions highlighted by various concentrations being intensified and leading to long-term economic stagnation, polarization of social distribution, and social unrest and retrogression.
Therefore, China should make full use of the opportunities and times for more favorable development before 2020, effectively avoid and reduce the risk of development, and realize the strategic goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. There is only one option. That is to make substantial improvements in innovation capability and gradually realize transformation from an element-driven growth to an innovation-driven growth, take the path of innovation and development, and take the construction of an innovative country with international influence as its strategic choice for 2020.