back to article China sets itself 2035 goal for technology self-sufficiency and covets title as the world’s top innovator

The Central Committee of Chinese Communist Party has declared the nation will become the world’s top innovator in coming years and says it wants to be entirely self-sustaining in tech within 15 years. The Committee has met this week to discuss China’s next five-year plan that sets economic and social policy from 2021 to 2025. …

  1. Mark Exclamation

    Shouldn't be too difficult for them as long as they continue to steal IP from around the world at the same rate they have been doing up to now. And the chip fabrication plants are ready and waiting for them in Taiwan.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      China has been a world leader in technology before - literacy, civil service, gunpowder, seafaring. Feel free to underestimate them, but the narrative we held twenty years ago that they can only copy and not innovate looks ever less accurate. Infact, it's a view reminiscent of the way Japan's technology was viewed in the 1950s.

      To quote everyone's favourite wild-haired innovator (Doc Emmet Brown, 1955 version): "No wonder this circuit failed, it says made in Japan!'

      Yeah, the West has made many technological and scientific advances. Let's just keep at it, rather deluding ourselves that we're automatically superior.

      1. big_D Silver badge


        I mean, Huawei is only leading in 5G because of all the technology it builds into its kit that nobody else has, so of course that was stolen. Oh, wait.

        People stick with their old prejudices, without even bothering to check, whether they are still valid.

        If we want to play that game, the UK and Europe would still be muttering on about those thieving Yanks that stole all their technology to kickstart their industry in the late 18th and early 19th centuries... Until such time as they started innovating themselves, when, suddenly, stealing other people's IP was a bad thing.

      2. AW-S

        "To quote everyone's favourite wild-haired innovator (Doc Emmet Brown, 1955 version): "No wonder this circuit failed, it says made in Japan!'"

        I was always puzzled about the dating of that remark. It seemed more suited to the 70's when certainly in the UK the phase "jap crap" became popular, just it seems as their cars & electronics became better than ours.

      3. llaryllama

        1950s Japan and modern day China are two completely different beasts.

        Japan, Taiwan, Germany, the US and other democratized nations have all made huge contributions to science and technology thanks in large part to their open democratic societies.

        China was once a technological powerhouse for sure but we are talking about thousands of years ago. For a country of over a billion people there have not really been too many truly novel achievements in the last two decades. Much of China's technological advancement in this time has involved foreign technology transfers or mid range manufacturing development.

        Unless China turns away from autocracy - which is looking more unlikely every year - they will be stuck behind self-imposed road blocks to further technological advancement.

    2. PhilipN Silver badge

      So where did Uncle Sam get the recipes for pizza and tutti frutti ice cream?

      Or, since this is a tech site, the nascent theories for atomic weaponry?*

      *Here's a clue : try University of Birmingham, the British one.

  2. chuckufarley

    I think they can do it...

    ...because they have a population of about two billion people. If just one out every thousand Chinese citizens has the education and talent needed to move their goals along that gives them about 2,000,000 innovators.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I think they can do it...

      There are also five year plans, so researchers are guaranteed funding towards a project and aren't spending half their time chasing grant applications for short projects.

      Marx saw that capitalism is a technological driver, but it should be noted that many of the West's technological advances also came out during times of war or were heavily government funded (Arpa, internet, GPS, computers etc.

      It takes all sorts.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: I think they can do it...

      It is the fundamental problem with the Chinese -- there's a lot of them and some of them are off-the-scale smart.

      We have to start thinking in terms of a global sports league rather than 'clash of empires'. We (the US) have been #1 for some time now but like in any league that just gives the runners up something to beat.

  3. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    I think they can undo it

    Sooner or later, corruption and greed will want an extra cut of innovation's bounty. I don't see China being any better than the US when it comes to ruining good things.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I think they can undo it

      They'll always be some corruption everywhere. Currently though, punishments for corruption amongst mid level party members is very robust - especially when compared to small sentences handed out to white collar financial criminals in the US if they're actually convicted.

      Things do change though.

    2. martinusher Silver badge

      Re: I think they can undo it

      The trap they have to avoid is the one we have fallen into -- confusing making money with making prosperity. I think they're aware of it.

      In theory a communist society should be more efficient at producting things because of the lower overhead -- less parasitism. I know that experiments in the early days of the USSR didn't work out that well but the problems could be blamed on all manner of issues, including embracing an early form of management science that wasn't that worked out. (Yes, our obsession with managing by spreadsheet is the same mindset that drove Soviet society. The fact we have computers and they didn't just means we can be even more inefficient about how we do stuff.)

  4. David Pearce

    If Only

    At least they have a plan, which is far more than the UK has

    The nice thing about the 5 year plan is that the politicians will be around to be assessed on it.

    1. EvilDrSmith

      Re: If Only

      Though, I have the suspicion that in China, the success of the 5-year plan involves the politicians assessing the workers/general population, and not the other way around.

  5. mark l 2 Silver badge

    This was always going to be the result of where China would end up going when the US started to put sanctions on China using US tech. Remember Trumps statement of 'Trade wars are good, they are easy to win'? Well lets see how that trade war is going in another 10 or 15 years when China no longer relies on any US technology to be able to produce their goods, and those US companies are then loosing money.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      He doesn't care. Chances are he will be dead or dribbling into his lap.

      So long as the narcissist is the centre of attention now, that's all that counts.

  6. Robert D Bank

    China will TRUMP the US.

  7. DS999 Silver badge

    China's a ticking demographic time bomb

    The decades of one child policy are going to catch up with them in another 10 or 20 years, as their average age begins to rapidly increase. Even lifting that policy a while back didn't alter that fate, as kids who grow up as an only child are much more likely to want only one child of their own. An aging population due to a too low birth rate is what stagnated Japan's economy since the 90s, the same thing will happen to China.

    Now maybe their economy reaches #1 in the world first - they do after all have several times more people than the US, but unless the US goes full Trump and bans immigration, there will always be population growth to make up for the below replacement rate birth rate of native born Americans. One thing Japan and China have in common is a very insular society that has little appetite for immigration.

    1. Denarius Silver badge

      Re: China's a ticking demographic time bomb

      there is more than population and technical skills to becoming innovative. Essentially the PHBs have said to the techies and peasants to "go, be creative". A classic materialist reductionist view of existence. Creativity is not something turned on and off. Given that creativity is linked to the ability to dissent from whatever orthodoxy is involved, a totalitarian or prescriptive society cannot innovate much. It may improve what already exists, as Japan did, using concepts taught by USA, usually ascribed to Denning but I believe credit lies elsewhere. Lastly, by definition, a planned economy assumes the PHB class knows what is to be produced and is highly innovative if innovation is required. Hence 5 year plans are more likely to ossify a society. Consider the success of EDS and CSC5 year plans in the ruins of the West as well as the years of fudged statistics in USSR.

      As for the negative population bomb currently hitting Japan, South Korea and Singapore, this is spreading and altho robotics are touted as a solution I see little evidence of widespread adoption due to energy storage and density limitations. These capacities are improving very slowly and expensively. In short, an aging population will become a burden. China my grow its middle class, but that is only good for a generation before China joins Japan, Europe etc in an economic decades long slump.

    2. David Pearce

      Re: China's a ticking demographic time bomb

      The World is going to find a way of running the economy that does not depend on population growth, it is already way beyond carrying capacity if everyone wants Western affluence levels.

      This is not an easy problem, but has to be solved.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: China's a ticking demographic time bomb

        Having more people working will always result in a stronger economy until automation is good enough and cheap enough that people start becoming superfluous to the economy in large numbers. Technology increases that make a person more productive make the economy grow, but it is still true that more people will make that economy grow more. So far technology changes that make a person irrelevant haven't been a problem (for society at large, it is a problem for that person at least for a time and sometimes for a long time) because enough new types of jobs have been created. That won't continue forever though, especially when "robots" able to perform most manual labor currently performed by humans become available.

        That will basically force the issue, because once you get significant segments of the population unable to participate in the economy in any form other than as a consumer there will be some sort of reckoning. You can't have all the profits going to the "robot owners" and let all the displaced people who used to do those jobs starve. Even the most capitalistic will realize that if that happens there would be a lot fewer customers for the products their robots make, so trying to keep all the profit themselves would be self defeating in the long run. All I know is that there will probably be a lot of violence and death until a society that can function in this new paradigm emerges.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      The thing is China is powering ahead in many areas.

      Two fastest trains? China's.

      Highest bridge? China

      Largest Dam? China

      Nuclear power station construction projects? China

      Largest Solar Power? China

      Largest Wind Power? China

      Electric car production? China.

      Much of this is bought in tech, but for example, I know that they are currently building a supercar to rival the best Europe and the US can make.

      Did they steal all this? Some yes, but if you class paying to be educated in Europe's and USA's top

      schools and universities as stealing, then you are very deluded.

  9. EnviableOne Silver badge

    Large populations lead to greater concentrations of inteligence

    China and India being the two most populous nations in the world, also both persuing a home made is best policy, will be, if not are already, the two nations leading the world in all things.

    I can see in the not to distant future India taking the UKs perminant seat on the UN security council

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