China will double down on pressure to be self-reliant in technology, premier says

BEIJING, March 5 (Reuters) – China’s science and technology policies should aim to build its strength and self-confidence, while the government’s role in pooling resources for key technological breakthroughs should be better utilized, Premier Li Keqiang said on Sunday.

The nation effectively countered external attempts to suppress and limit China’s development over the past five years by promoting the development of the real economy through innovation and fostering new drivers of growth, Li said, without naming any countries.

China is under increasing pressure from the United States, which has cited national security concerns in limiting access to Chinese semiconductors and artificial intelligence technology.

President Xi Jinping has urged the nation to strengthen its confidence in science and technology and continue to strive as a global technology power.

However, China’s record suggests that self-sufficiency will be difficult to achieve, despite a “sense of urgency” conveyed by the work report amid intense technological competition with the United States, said Alfredo Montufar-Helu, head of the China Center in Beijing . in the conference council.

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Li, the outgoing premier, said in his work report for the opening of the annual meeting of China’s parliament: “Scientific and technological policies should aim to build our country’s strength and self-confidence in science and technology.

“The new system for mobilizing resources at the national level should be improved, we should make better use of the government’s role in pooling resources to create important technological breakthroughs, and companies should be the main players in innovation.”

Li said China should speed up the research and development of advanced technologies and promote their application. The development of the platform economy should be supported and regular supervision carried out, he added.

The platform economy includes China’s biggest technology companies, such as Alibaba Group ( 9988.HK ) and Tencent Holdings ( 0700.HK ). Such companies were the targets of a long, bruising regulatory crackdown that Beijing says it is now easing.

China’s Ministry of Finance and its state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), released reports on Sunday underscoring their support for those goals.

The finance ministry said it would increase special funds for the industrial and manufacturing sectors by 4.4 billion yuan this year to 13.3 billion yuan ($1.93 billion) to support areas such as integrated circuits. It announced 6.5 billion yuan for science and technology advancement at the local level, an increase of 2 billion yuan.

The NDRC said it would accelerate the construction of hard technological infrastructure, including in artificial intelligence, 5G and big data, and promote the healthy development of online retail and e-commerce live streaming with instant delivery, key marketing channels for China’s consumer sector .

It said it would consolidate China’s “leading position” in areas such as electric vehicles and solar panels, where the country occupies key places in the global supply chain.

Still, the state planner warned that China’s supply chains faced the risk of several bottlenecks and “chokepoints” and said the government would plan and implement a series of major science and technology projects to boost the country’s strength in the “boundaries of international competition”.

Analyst Montufar-Helu noted that Made in China 2025, a high-tech industrial development push Beijing launched in 2015, had failed to meet its goal of producing 40% of chips consumed in domestic value chains by 2020 and 70% by 2025 , as China’s microchip consumption was only 16% domestically manufactured in 2021.

“This is despite the hundreds of billions of yuan in investment that have been poured into the sector over the past few years,” he said.

($1 = 6.9048 Chinese Yuan Renminbi)

Reporting by Brenda Goh, Eduardo Baptista and Josh Horwitz; Editing by William Mallard

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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