mandag 14. juni 2021

Embattled China seeks greater technological self-reliance

One of the most conspicuous aspects of China’s 14th Five Year Plan is the new emphasis on technological self-strengthening (keji zili ziqiang). During the Cultural Revolution, as China sought to delink itself from the West and follow a policy of autarky, self-reliance (zili gengsheng) became an important ideological path chosen by the Maoist leadership. With the onset of the reform and opening policies initiated under Deng Xiaoping from the 1980s, technological self-reliance was largely abandoned in favour of a set of policies that sought to promote China’s increased integration with the world economy and international science and technology ecosystem.

Even after China launched its 15-year National Medium-to-Long-Term Plan for Science and Technology Development (2006-2020) and began a new policy position built around the theme of ‘indigenous innovation’ (zizhu chuangxin), connectivity with the international economy was still a core aspect of Chinese policy under both former president Hu Jintao and current president Xi Jinping. In contrast to what many observers thought was a distinct turn inward, these efforts were chiefly aimed at strengthening the performance of the Chinese research and development ecosystem to yield more of the intellectual capital China needed to drive its economy.