Published: 11:15, November 4, 2021 | Updated: 11:18, November 4, 2021
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Xi presents award to top scientists
By Xu Wei

Aircraft designer, nuclear researcher recognized for work

President Xi Jinping gives the nation's top science award to aircraft designer Gu Songfen on Wednesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (PANG XINGLEI / XIE HUANCHI / XINHUA)

President Xi Jinping presented the nation's top science award to aircraft designer Gu Songfen and leading nuclear scientist Wang Dazhong on Wednesday in recognition of their outstanding contributions to scientific and technological innovation.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, conferred the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award on the two academicians during a grand ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

The two scientists then joined Party and State leaders in presenting certificates to the recipients of State awards in natural science, technological invention, scientific and technological progress and international science and technology cooperation.

Among the honorees were epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan and his team, who were commended for tackling difficult respiratory ailments including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), COVID-19, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech at the ceremony that innovation in science and technology has been a pillar of the nation's pandemic response and economic recovery.

He highlighted the need to seize historic opportunities from the new scientific and technological revolution and industrial revolution, improve China's innovation capacity across the board, spur the potential for social creativity and strive to attain a high level of technological self-reliance.

It is important to expedite steps to attain breakthroughs in core technologies, bolster the capacity for independent innovation and enable better allocation of resources in science and technology and sharing of resources, he said.

"We will actively foster an environment that offers opportunities to those who are willing, courageous and capable to conduct innovation," he said.

President Xi Jinping gives the nation's top science award to aircraft designer Gu Songfen on Wednesday at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (PANG XINGLEI / XIE HUANCHI / XINHUA)

The nation will make persistent efforts to shore up fundamental research, including increasing funding from the national budget and offering tax incentives to businesses and private capital, Li said. He underlined the need for composure and patience in supporting fundamental research, saying it is imperative to deepen reform in fundamental education and create a good research atmosphere that encourages innovation and tolerates failure.

The premier also underscored the principal status of businesses in conducting innovation, saying the government will come up with more inclusive policies for businesses in this regard and promote the flow of innovation elements to enterprises.

He pledged stronger measures to cut red tape that hampers innovation and further reduce burdens on researchers.

China will proactively integrate itself into the global innovation network and promote cooperation in the worldwide pandemic response, public health and climate change in a pragmatic manner, he said.

The nation will support scientists from various countries to conduct joint research on global issues and attract more overseas talent to China to realize their innovation dreams, he added.

Wang said he was honored and encouraged to have received the award, and felt fortunate and proud to have contributed to the nation's nuclear cause.

He said a keen realization from his lifelong research is that daring to think and act and tackle areas that no one has tried before is a must for independent innovation.

He attributed the success of project, the world's first fourth-generation high-temperature, gas-cooled nuclear reactor, to the persistence of researchers who conducted long hours of lonely research.

Gao Wen, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a computer scientist, said it was an emotional moment for him to receive words of congratulation from Xi at the ceremony.

Gao's team won the first prize of the State Technological Invention Award for a coding technology that enabled the transmission of high-definition video.

"It is blessing for us researchers to have such unprecedented support from the top leadership and the nation. It is imperative for us to seize opportunities and take advantage of the good platforms to strive for more outcomes," he said.