Published: 16:22, June 25, 2024
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China makes innovation new engine of growth
By Chen Liming

Innovation is a key force driving global development and solving complex problems. Today, the world needs innovation and collaboration more than ever before to cope with challenges such as climate change, trade disputes and public health emergencies. However, the level of innovation is uneven around the world, with some regions lagging behind due to insufficient budgets, low education levels, inadequate infrastructure, and/or lack of conducive policies.

Lagging behind in innovation means lacking competitiveness and the inability to effectively respond and adapt to market changes, which results in low production efficiency and slow economic growth. This ultimately weakens overall development potential. Through measures such as technology transfer, financial assistance and talent training, the international community can help less developed regions to boost their innovation capability, as well as contribute to knowledge sharing and promoting balanced development among regions.

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It's not that some significant progress has not been made. Some governments are playing an active role in shaping economic and industrial policies to bolster key growth areas such as technology and green industries in order to enhance competitiveness. For example, China has been the biggest driver of global growth for years, and is set to contribute over one-quarter of global growth in 2024.

From 2018 to 2023, China's research and development expenditure increased by nearly 70 percent, making a global impact by continuously advancing cutting-edge technologies. Last year, for instance, China applied for 921,000 patents, up 15.3 percent year-on-year. In fact, China has the largest number of valid domestic patents in the world.

According to the 2023 Global Innovation Index of the World Intellectual Property Organization, 24 Chinese science and technology clusters made it to the list of top 100 science and technology clusters in the world, the highest of all countries.

Also, China has been accelerating the application of research results to industries. This year, I visited a partner company of the World Economic Forum, which has achieved a remarkable level of digitalization and automation despite being part of a traditional industry. And I think there is reason to believe that a large number of Chinese companies have achieved similar levels of advancement.

While innovative technologies have transformed people's lives, from smart homes to mobile payments and healthcare technologies, people can find almost everything they need online, which has made people's lives much more convenient.

As a major champion of new energy technologies, China, thanks to its emphasis on innovation, has improved energy efficiency, cut the cost of renewable energy, and reduced its reliance on fossil fuels, contributing to global environmental protection and sustainable development.

In 2023, the installed renewable energy capacity increased by 510 kilowatts globally, with China contributing more than a half to the increase. And Chinese-made wind turbines and solar photovoltaic panels have been exported to more than 200 countries and regions.

China is also working with more than 100 economies on green energy projects, while helping countries such as Kenya and South Africa with solar and wind energy technologies to develop their clean energy industry, and alleviate their energy shortages.

In addition, Chinese-made electric vehicles (EVs) are not only sold in China but also exported to many other countries. China exported 1.20 million EVs in 2023, up 77.6 percent year-on-year, which accounted for more than 60 percent of the global sales of EVs. Looking ahead, China continues to be the major global player in manufacturing clean energy technologies, according to World Economic Forum 2024 Energy Transition Index, and is significantly increasing its domestic renewable energy capacity with record-level solar photovoltaics.

Besides, China plays a crucial role in the global production and supply of minerals and materials which are integral to renewable energy technology. These factors have consolidated China's position as a key player in driving the world toward a sustainable and renewable energy future.

The World Economic Forum's 15th Annual Meeting of the New Champions will explore next frontiers for growth and unleash its growth so as to build a sustainable future through innovation. By leveraging its strength in R&D, China has become a new driver of innovation.

The meeting is also expected to act as a valuable platform for discussions on crucial issues, including China's expanding global technology footprint and increasing expenditure.

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Since its inception in 2007, the Annual Meeting of the New Champions has gradually become an important platform for global leaders to engage in discussions on the economy and innovation. China has not only used this platform to get a better insight into the world of innovation, but also showcased its achievements as well as scientific and technological capability, and collaboratively advanced global scientific and technological progress.

We (at the World Economic Forum) look forward to welcoming more Chinese representatives on the World Economic Forum's platform, to get new insights into many issues, make new connections and engage in discussions, while promoting global cooperation and innovation, in a bid to build a better future for humankind.

The author is chair of Greater China, World Economic Forum.

The views don’t necessarily reflect those of China Daily.