Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the new generation of technological revolution and industrial transformation has been accelerated, the global landscape for innovation is quickly being reshaped, the world economy is undergoing profound changes, and China has entered a critical period of development model transformation, economic restructuring and gear-changing of growth momentums, with innovation increasingly becoming the key to cracking development problems. Facing new opportunities and challenges, under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the whole country has resolutely implemented the new development concept, followed through the innovation-driven development strategy, strengthened strategic scientific and technological research, and advanced the “mass entrepreneurship and innovation” campaign. China has since achieved new technological breakthroughs, fostered new development momentums, vigorously developed its new economy, and entered the ranks of innovative countries. At the same time, science and technology are increasingly playing a leading role in promoting high-quality growth and better meeting people’s needs for a better life.
I. An improved structure and a better ecosystem for innovation
1. Greater investment in innovation
- In 2021, China’s investment in R&D reached RMB 2.8 trillion, an increase of 1.7 times over 2012 at current prices, with an average annual growth of 11.7%, ranking second globally after the United States.
- In 2021, the ratio of R&D investment to GDP reached 2.44%, 0.53 percentage points higher than in 2012 and close to the average of OECD countries.
- In 2021, the investment in basic research hit RMB 181.7 billion, an increase of 2.6 times compared with 2012, with an average annual growth of 15.4%; accounting for 6.5% of the total investment in R&D, an increase of 1.66 percentage points compared with 2012.
2. Dominant role of enterprises in innovation
- In 2021, the investment in R&D by enterprises of all types hit RMB 2.2 trillion, an increase of 1.7 times over 2012, with an average annual growth of 11.9%, accounting for 76.9% of China’s total investment in R&D.
- In 2021, 38.3% of industrial enterprises above designated size had R&D activities, 24.6 percentage points higher than in 2012; A total of 825,000 R&D projects were carried out, an increase of 1.9 times over 2012.
- At the end of 2021, high-tech enterprises owned 1.1 million valid invention patents, accounting for 63.6% of the total number of valid invention patents of domestic enterprises.
3. Burgeoning innovation platforms
- At the end of 2021, 533 national key laboratories and 191 national engineering research centers were in operation, and 20 national scientific data centers and 31 national germplasm and experimental material repositories had been laid out and constructed.
- At the end of 2021, there were 1,287 national science and technology business incubators and 1,636 national corporate technology centers. The landscape of innovation continues to be optimized, with Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao Greater Bay Area ranking among the top 10 global science and technology clusters, and the construction of comprehensive national science centers in Huairou district of Beijing, Zhangjiang, Shanghai, and Hefei, Anhui was kicked off.
II. Greater momentums of innovation underpinned by new market players
1. The “mass entrepreneurship and innovation” campaign has been advanced
- At the end of 2021, the total number of market entities in China reached 154 million, an increase of 1.8 times compared with the end of 2012, with an average annual growth of 12.1%. Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the total number of newly added tax-paying market entities nationwide has reached 93.2 million, an average annual increase of more than 10 million; the number of general VAT taxpayers increased from 5.4 million at the end of 2015 to 12.4 million at the end of 2021, an increase of 1.3 times.
2. New hi-tech enterprises are showing great vitality
- In 2021, the number of high-tech enterprises in China reached 330,000, and the amount of tax paid increased from 0.8 trillion yuan in 2012 to 2.3 trillion yuan.
3. New industries and products are growing vigorously
- In 2021, the added value of high-tech manufacturing and equipment manufacturing enterprises above designated size accounted for 15.1% and 32.4% of the added value of industrial enterprises above designated size, up 5.7 and 4.2 percentage points respectively from 2012.
- In 2021, the added value of info-transmission software and IT services and leasing and business services accounted for 7.2% and 5.8% of the added value of services, respectively, up 2.5 and 1.1 percentage points from 2012.
- The output of green and intelligent products is growing rapidly. In 2021, the output of new energy vehicles, industrial robots, solar cells and integrated circuits increased by 28.2 times, 12.5 times, 4.4 times and 2.5 times respectively compared to 2014.
4. New business models are booming
- In 2021, the online retail sales of physical commodities reached 10.8 trillion yuan, accounting for 24.5% of the total retail sales of consumer goods, up 15.3 percentage points over 2014; the overall volume of express business exceeded the 100 billion mark for the first time, reaching 108.3 billion parcels, an increase of 18 times over 2012, ranking first in the world.
- In 2021, the total traffic data via mobile Internet reached 221.6 billion GB, 252 times more than in 2012. The Statistical Report on the Development of the Internet in China shows that as of December 2021, the scale of online office and online medical users in China had reached 469 million and 298 million respectively, and the number of online video and short video users had hit 975 million and 934 million respectively.
III. Thriving digital economy unleashing great potential of innovation
1. Great achievements in basic and frontier research
The infrastructures for major scientific and technological research have been improved, and a number of key projects have been rolled out, including the Scattered Fission Neutron Source, the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), the Full Superconducting Tokamak Nuclear Fusion Experimental Device, the Pulsed Strong Magnetic Field Experimental Device, and the National Protein Science Research Facility, which is the world’s first comprehensive scientific device in the life sciences. All these have laid a solid foundation for further development of China’s basic research. China has successfully isolated the world’s first strain of the novel coronavirus, completed the genome sequencing of the virus, developed a great number of clinical drugs, testing equipment and reagents as well as vaccines. Science and technology have played a key role in the prevention and control of Covid-19.
2. New breakthroughs in the fields of strategic high technology
The new generation of carrier rocket has made its maiden flight; the “Tianhe” core module of the Chinese Space Station was successfully launched; the Shenzhou 13 manned spacecraft and the “Tianhe” core module achieved radial rendezvous and docking for the first time; the Chinese Space Station entered into a full-scale construction phase. The Tianwen-1 rover successfully landed on Mars, and the Zhurong rover roamed on Mars. The “Striver” manned submersible completed a 10,000-meter sea trial; the “Haidou No. 1” unmanned submersible refreshed its record of dive depth; the Beidou navigation system became fully operational; the “Guohe No. 1” and “Hualong No. 1” third-generation nuclear power technology made new breakthroughs; the first self-developed aircraft carrier was commissioned, and the Fujian Aircraft Carrier was launched. China’s self-developed large civil aircraft C919 made its first flight; the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge was opened; China’s high-speed railway set world records for the highest operating speed and lowest operating temperature, and the 600 km/h high-speed magnetic levitation system was successfully launched.
3. Accelerated pace of tech commercialization
- In 2021, the number of patents granted in China hit 4.6 million, an increase of 2.7 times compared with 2012, with an average annual growth of 15.5%; As of end 2021, the number of valid patents had hit 15.4 million, an increase of 3.4 times compared with the end of 2012.
4. Emerging digital economy
- In 2020, the added value of China’s core digital economy industries accounted for 7.8% of GDP, with the total output of digital economy leaping to the second place in the world.
- As of end 2021, China had deployed and opened a total of 1.4 million 5G base stations, accounting for more than 60% of the world.
IV. Decisive achievements in building an innovation-driven country with innovation playing a solid role in advancing socio-economic development
1. Giant leaps in innovation, competitiveness, and sustainable development
- In 2021, China’s innovation index ranked 12th in the world, up 22 places from 2012.
- In 2019, China ranks 28th among 141 countries and regions in terms of competitiveness.
- In 2021, China’s Sustainable Development (SDG) Index hit 72.1, ranking 57th globally, up 14 places from 2017.
2. Innovation driving economic transformation
- The contribution of scientific and technological progress to China’s economy increased from 52.2% in 2012 to over 60% in 2021, and the contribution of agricultural technological progress to China’s economy grew from 53.5% to over 60%.
- In 2021, total labor productivity (at 2020 prices) hit RMB146,380 per person, 80.3% higher than in 2012, with an average annual increase of 6.8%, and 0.2 percentage points higher than the average annual growth of GDP.