Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed that scientific and technological development must target the global science frontiers, serve the main economic battlefield, strive to fulfill the significant needs of the country and benefit people’s lives and health.
Xi made the remarks at a symposium attended by scientists in Beijing on Sept. 11.
Fu Qiaomei, a research fellow of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) delivered a speech at the symposium. Her speech was joked to be the “oldest topic introduced by the youngest scientist,” as the woman was only in her thirties.
According to her, what she does is to study the question of who we are and where we came from through ancient genomes.
To explore the long stretches of history calls for perseverance. Fu shared with the president a question that she had frequently been asked over the years – what usages her study has. She told Xi that she once considered switching to hotspot research when struggling to maintain her lab, but finally decided to stick to it. She hopes that the country can further guide the public’s opinion on basic research, saying the so-called usage is not the only criterion for evaluation.
Deeply impressed by what Fu said, Xi replied that unpopular subjects are always considered useless, but such practice might hinder the development of these subjects. He told Fu that evaluation on scientific research calls for insight, global vision and science-based analysis.
Basic research is the source of scientific innovation. That’s an issue that has been long considered by the Chinese President. He stressed the importance of enhancing basic research, saying the root cause of China’s stranglehold problems in science and technology is the lack of basic studies.
He demanded necessary fiscal, finance and taxation support for progressive research units and enterprises engaged in basic studies, regardless of their types of ownership and system. He said a favorable ecology for basic studies shall be developed in an innovative manner.
The inflow of overseas returnees in the recent years indicated the attraction of China’s development, and the topic of talents was a focus at the symposium.
Academician Yao Qizhi suggested to build a complete chain of talent cultivation to foster the “blood making” capacity of China. Academician Shi Yigong reported the progress of the construction of the Westlake University, a new research-oriented private university in east China’s Zhejiang province, hoping it to become a top-notch scientific and technological incubator and a top base for talent cultivation.
Xi recorded what they said on a note book when talking with them, noting people are the source of China’s scientific innovation.
He demanded bolder practices in talent attraction and cultivation, suggesting to introduce opener and more flexible mechanisms. He stressed that China should gather first-class talents from the world and attract high-level talents from overseas, and build a competitive and attractive environment for overseas scientists working in China.
The president encouraged the spirit to seek truth in scientific research, saying scientific innovation, especially original innovation needs creative and dialectical capability and strict verification.
Scientific research shall start from the development trend of the country to make preparation in advance, Xi said, adding that the selection of research directions shall be demand-oriented and address the urgent and long-term demand of the country to solve practical problems.
The planning of the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan is being made when the timeframes of the two centenary goals converge. Recently, Xi has convened several symposiums to solicit opinions. At this symposium, he listened to speeches of 7 scientists, saying they have a broad mind and are enlightening. He also encouraged other scientists to submit advices in written forms.