On the afternoon of February 21, the CCP Central Committee Politburo conducted a third collective study session on strengthening basic research. When presiding over the study session, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized that strengthening basic research is an urgent requirement for achieving high-level S&T self-reliance and self-improvement, and it is the only way to create a global S&T power. Party committees and governments at all levels should include strengthening basic research into the critical agenda of S&T work, as well as strengthen overall coordination, increase policy support, and promote high-quality development of basic research.
Professor Gong Qihuang, president of Peking University and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, explained this issue and put forward work suggestions. Comrades from the CCP Politburo listened carefully to the explanation and held a discussion.
After listening to the explanations and discussions, Xi Jinping delivered an important speech. He pointed out that the party and the state have always attached great importance to basic research work. After the founding of New China, especially since the reform and opening up, China’s basic research has made great achievements. At present, a new round of S&T revolution and industrial transformation is advancing by leaps and bounds. Interdisciplinary integration continues to develop, and scientific research paradigms are undergoing profound changes. S&T and economic and social development accelerate penetration and integration, the transformation cycle of basic research has been significantly shortened, and international S&T competition has moved forward to the basic frontier. To cope with international S&T competition, achieve high-level self-reliance and self-improvement, promote the construction of a new development pattern, and achieve high-quality development, it is urgent for us to strengthen basic research and solve key technical problems from the source and the bottom.
Xi Jinping emphasized that it is necessary to strengthen the forward-looking, strategic, and systematic layout of basic research. Basic research is at the beginning of the scientific research chain from research to application to production. Only when the foundation is firmly laid can the S&T building be built high. To adhere to the “Four Orientations,” we must uphold the goal-oriented and free exploration of “Walking on Two Legs,” combining the world’s cutting-edge S&T with the country’s major strategic needs and economic and social development goals. We must coordinate the cutting-edge issues raised in accordance with the laws of scientific development and the theoretical issues abstracted from major applied research and scrutinize the key scientific issues of basic research. We must grasp the development trend of S&T and the national strategic needs, strengthen the feasibility demonstration and selection evaluation of major basic research projects, fully respect the opinions of scientists, grasp the general trend, and seize a “first mover” advantage. To enhance national strategic S&T strength, we must organize the promotion of strategic-oriented systematic basic research, frontier-oriented exploratory basic research, and market-oriented applied basic research. We must pay attention to the leading role of national laboratories, the institutionalized organizational role of national scientific research institutions, the main force role of high-level research universities, and the role of “questioners,” “answerers,” and “markers” of leading technology companies. We must optimize the layout of basic disciplines, support the development of key disciplines, emerging disciplines, unpopular disciplines, and weak disciplines, promote interdisciplinary integration and interdisciplinary research, and build a high-quality discipline system with comprehensive and balanced development.
Xi Jinping pointed out that the world has entered the era of big science, the degree of organization of basic research is ever advancing, and the influence of institutional guarantees and policy guidance on the output of basic research is increasing. We must deepen the reform of basic research systems and mechanisms and give full play to the value-driven and strategic traction roles of systems and policies. To steadily increase financial investment in basic research, we must incentivize enterprises to increase investment through various methods such as tax incentives, encourage social forces to set up multiple investments such as science funds and scientific donations, improve the funding efficiency of the National Natural Science Foundation of China and its joint funds, and establish and improve the basic research investment mechanism that combines competitive support and stable support. To optimize the basic research support system of the national science and technology plan, we must improve basic research project organization, application, review, and decision-making mechanisms, implement differentiated classification management and international and domestic peer review, organize and carry out collaborative research on major scientific issues, and encourage free exploratory research and non-consensus innovative research. To properly handle the relationship between the new nationwide system and market mechanisms, we must improve the system of S&T evaluation incentives, the application and transformation of achievements, and the salaries of S&T personnel to match the long-term cycle of basic research. We must provide long-term and stable support for a number of basic research innovation bases, advantageous teams, and key directions and build a source of original innovation and a vanguard of basic research.
Xi Jinping emphasized that it is necessary to coordinate the construction of a national laboratory system with Chinese characteristics, lay out and build basic discipline research centers, deploy new basic scientific research information platforms in advance, and form a strong backbone network for basic research. We must scientifically plan the layout of forward-looking leading, strategic-oriented, and application-supporting major S&T infrastructure, strengthen the supervision during and after the construction of facilities, improve the whole life cycle management, and comprehensively improve the level of open sharing and operational efficiency. To fight the tough battle for the localization of S&T equipment, operating systems, and basic software, we must encourage scientific research institutions, universities, and enterprises to carry out joint research, improve the level of localization substitution and application scale, and strive to use China’s independent research platforms, instruments, and equipment to solve major basic research problems as soon as possible.
Xi Jinping pointed out that strengthening basic research ultimately depends on high-level talents. Efforts must be made to build a systematic and high-level basic research talent training platform so that more basic research talents can emerge. We must increase support for various talent plans for basic research talents, foster and use strategic scientists and support young S&T talents to take on leading roles and heavy responsibilities, and continue to grow the leading S&T talent team and first-class innovation team. To improve the differentiated evaluation of basic research talents and long-term support mechanisms, we must give S&T leaders greater control over human resources and property and the right to choose technical routes and must construct an evaluation system that conforms to the laws of basic research and the laws of talent growth. To strengthen the construction of scientific research and academic style, we must guide S&T personnel to abandon exaggeration, rid themselves of impetuosity, and sit firmly on the “cold bench.” To uphold the road of self-cultivation of basic research talents, we must deeply implement the Middle School Student Talent Program, Strong Foundations Program, and Top-level Student Training Program for Basic Subjects. We must optimize the education system of basic disciplines, give full play to the role of universities, especially “Double First-Class” universities, as the main force in cultivating basic research talents, strengthen the fostering of high-level talents that the country urgently needs, and continuously create a large-scale basic research reserve force.
Xi Jinping emphasized that in order to solve the problems of common development, human beings require international cooperation and openness and sharing more than ever. To build an international basic research cooperation platform, we must set up a global scientific research fund, increase the opening up of national S&T plans, and expand and deepen Chinese-foreign joint scientific research around global issues such as climate change, energy security, biosecurity, and outer space utilization. To plan forward and deeply participate in global S&T governance, we must participate in or initiate the establishment of international S&T organizations and support domestic universities, scientific research institutes, and S&T organizations that connect with the international community. To enhance openness, trust, and cooperation in the international S&T community, to make new and greater contributions to the progress of human civilization with more major original innovations and breakthroughs in key core technologies, and to effectively safeguard China’s S&T security interests.
Xi Jinping pointed out that the spirit of “Two Bombs, One Satellite,” born out of the generations of China’s S&T workers through continuous struggle, along with the westward spirit, the spirit of manned spaceflight, the scientist spirit, the lunar exploration spirit, and the Beidou spirit of the new era have together shaped the innovation ecology with Chinese characteristics and become an inexhaustible driving force to support the development of basic research. To vigorously promote the scientific spirit of pursuing truth and always reaching for the summit throughout the whole of society, we must extensively publicize the advanced models and deeds that have emerged in the fields of basic research and other S&T, guide the vast number of S&T workers through education to inherit the glorious tradition of the older generation of scientists who pledge themselves to the country and who have cared about the people, that they write their theses into the earth of the motherland. To strengthen national science popularization capacity building, we must deeply implement actions to improve the scientific quality of the whole people, disseminate scientific knowledge and demonstrate S&T achievements through multiple channels online and offline, and establish a social trend of adoring and advocating for science. To excel in the “addition” of science education in the “Double Reduction” of education, we must stimulate young people’s curiosity, imagination, and desire to explore and foster a group of young people who have the potential of scientists and are willing to dedicate themselves to scientific research.
Finally, Xi Jinping emphasized that leading cadres at all levels should learn S&T knowledge and carry forward the scientific spirit, actively step forward to solve problems for S&T workers, loosen ties and reduce burdens, cheer and encourage, and implement a series of strategic deployments of the Party Central Committee on technological innovation.