China should be prepared for “unprecedented” scientific and technological competition, which has become the “the main battleground” of global power rivalry, President Xi Jinping has said in a rallying call to the country’s scientists. Xi said China needed to speed up its efforts to tackle technological bottlenecks and make breakthroughs in key areas such as artificial intelligence, semiconductors, quantum technology, life science and energy in a speech to mark the country’s national day for science and research on Sunday.
The Chinese leader cited rising protectionism, rapid changes to the global supply chain and increasing uncertainty in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic as reasons to act. He also pledged to increase investment in science and innovation and promised to free scientists from red tape and give them greater autonomy. His speech coincided with a similar call from US President Joe Biden, who on the same day asked the Congress to back an ambitious increase in funding for scientific agencies.