China, which last month pledged to become an innovation nation, yesterday unveiled a strategy to strengthen its scientific prowess over the next 15 years.
Spending on research and development (R&D) will account for 2.5 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020, according to the National Guideline on Medium- and Long-term Programme for Science and Technology Development (2006-20) issued by the State Council.
The ratio of spending on R&D will be increased to 2 per cent of GDP by 2010 from the current 1.3 per cent.
"By 2020, the general goal for our country's science and technology development is to dramatically strengthen homegrown innovation capacity," the plan said.
The targets are based on ground realities in China and the experience of other countries, said Gao Changlin, a senior researcher with the National Research Centre for Science and Technology for Development.
Gao, who was involved in strategic research for formulating the guideline, told China Daily that it is a global trend to increase investment in science and technology, both in developed and developing countries.
Most of the funds must come from State coffers rather than the private sector, he said, explaining that even in developed countries, government spending usually exceeds 35 per cent of the total spending on R&D.
Also in the guideline, the country envisions that by 2020, science and technology will contribute 60 per cent to economic growth.
The reliance on key foreign technology will decline to below 30 per cent from more than half now.
To achieve these goals, the blueprint details a number of policies on financial support, tax incentives and government procurement, together with a package of key projects.
Gao said motivating enterprises to go down the path of innovation would be crucial, adding that spending on R&D might be tax- deductible.
The guideline also pledges to have a mechanism of venture capital investment for startups; and encourages small- and medium-sized technology companies to go public overseas.
The guideline lists a comprehensive package of key technology, frontier technology and basic research programmes.
The 16 key programmes will address a series of urgent problems China confronts in energy, information, health and resources; and develop technologies for both military and civilian uses.
They include a new generation of wide-band wireless mobile communication technology, exploration of large oil and gas fields and coalbed gas, water pollution control, prevention of serious contagious diseases such as AIDS and hepatitis, manned space flights and lunar exploration.
In frontier technologies, China will focus on such sectors as energy, biology, information, new materials, advanced manufacturing, space development and exploration of seas and oceans.
In energy research, for example, advanced technologies for energy-efficient buildings, utilization of clean and liquidized coal, extraction of oil and gas from areas with complex geological structure and development of recycled energy and new energy are all given priority.
In basic science research, four major programmes are the study of proteins, control of quanta, nano technology and research of growth and reproduction.