President Xi Jinping has urged the armed forces, “fully implement the innovation-driven development strategy, put combat capacity at the centre of its work, and step up theoretical and technological innovation.” At a key Communist Party meeting in October, Xi identified innovation as the most critical of five concepts for development, followed by coordination, “green” development, opening up and sharing. Xi called for better integration between the military and the civilian sector to boost innovation in both the army and the nation.
Chinese leader Xi has repeatedly stressed the importance of “military-civilian integration” as a core component of the country’s military development strategy. China’s leaders believe this integration will help China continue its rapid defense modernization without creating too great a drag on its economy. “Through in-depth development of military-civilian integration, military technologies are gradually applied in civilian fields, making high-tech equipment available to commercial markets. At the same time, we have also emphasized the importance of encouraging more civilian product suppliers to actively participate in the defense-building process,” said Dai Hao, Director-General of China’s Institute of Command and Control.
China is making rapid advancements in many technologies thus narrowing its gap with western world. Former US energy secretary Steven Chu has even observed that China is ahead of America in areas ranging “from wind power to nuclear reactors to high-speed rail”. China is also catching up fast in artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, 5-G broadband technology and the “Internet of Things.” Some of its achievements include a gigantic 500m-aperture spherical telescope, the launch of the world’s first hacker-proof quantum satellite and the development of world’s fastest supercomputer – the new Sunway Tianhe-1A .China has also developing twin high-performance fifth-generation stealth fighters, , and large number of missiles including “Carrier killer” missile, anti-ship cruise missile, nuclear submarine and long-range intercontinental missile. Its homegrown aircraft carrier is nearing completion.
China is becoming formidable space power, it has sent 10 astronauts into orbit over the last 13 years, launched its first moon probe and two space stations (Tiangong 1 and 2). Most recently, China launched the Shenzhou XI manned spacecraft with two astronauts to the Tiangong II space lab for a 30-day manoeuvre. China will send lunar probe Chang’e 5 to land on the moon and return with samples in the second half of 2017, in first such attempt, officials said. It will be the first time a Chinese probe would land on the moon, collect samples and return to Earth, and the third stage of China’s lunar exploration endeavour, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND).
It has also enhanced its R&D spending, last year, it devoted 2.1 per cent of its GDP to research and development activities, lower than Japan’s 3.6 per cent and the 2.7 per cent of the US. This translates into US$220 billion (S$306 billion), making it the world’s second largest research and development (R&D) spending after that of the US
According to Global Innovation Index 2016: Switzerland, UK, Sweden, Finland, USA are still most innovative nations. However this year some notable changes take place within the top 25, Notably, for the first time a middle-income country—China—is among the top 25. China’s innovation rankings this year also reflect high scores in both the Business sophistication and Knowledge and technology outputs pillars. For example, the country has a particularly high number of R&D-intensive firms among the top global corporate R&D spenders.
China has become the world’s largest source of new patents, industrial designs and trademarks. According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, China in 2014 filed 34 per cent of the world’s patents, compared with 22 per cent for the US and 12 per cent for Japan. China also filed 50 per cent of the world’s new industrial designs, against 9 per cent for the US; and 76 per cent of new trademarks, compared with the US’ 13 per cent.
However China is still accused of stealing western technologies. Now china is taking large number of measures to provide thrust to innovation including boosting civil military integration, Five-year plan, National R&D plan, National Medium to Long-term Plan (MLP), and establishing Chinese DARPA.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has tasked the new People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Strategic Support Force (SSF) with pursuing “leapfrog development” and advancing military innovation. According to its commander, Gao Jin, the SSF will “protect the high frontiers and new frontiers of national security,” while seeking to “seize the strategic commanding heights of future military competition.” Through its integration of space, cyber, and electronic warfare capabilities, the SSF may be uniquely able to take advantage of cross-domain synergies resulting from the inherent interrelatedness and technological convergence of operations in these domains. The SSF has produced an “Innovation-Driven Development Strategy” that incorporates efforts to advance the construction of a cadre of innovative, talented personnel and to “cultivate the spirit of innovation.”
Out of total 86 space launches in 2015, China Aerospace Science and Technology Co. has launched a total of 43 satellites, followed by 29 in Russia and 17 in the U.S. China now has over 140 satellites in orbit with stable operation, second only to the U.S. in terms of satellite ownership, said a Chinese engineer from the national defense field at a satellite exhibition.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., the main contractor for the Chinese space program, has teamed up with a number of state-owned enterprises to establish a RMB150 billion (US$21.78 billion) guidance fund to invest in innovative technologies. The vehicle will focus on clean energy, new energy vehicles, quantum teleportation, 3D printing, robotics, graphene, biomedicine, energy saving and environment protection sectors, with an aim to enhance the innovation capability of state-owned enterprises, assist develop emerging industries, as well as push for collaborative innovation between state-owned enterprises and other institutions.
China’s military has offered $870 million to private firms and institutes to fund 2,000 projects for research on equipment and weapons in a bid to boost military-civilian integration and upgrade military technologies. The Central Military Commission’s (CMC) equipment development department released a guideline on its website, saying China plans to invest six billion yuan ($870 million) this year for research in shared technology and other research, Zhuangbei Keji, a WeChat account affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily, said.A million yuan has been allocated to project to study the temperature adaptability of solid propellants, state-run Global Times reported.
Military Civil Integration to boost innovation
China’s leaders are continuing to promote “military-civilian integration” as a core component of the country’s military development strategy. China’s leaders believe this integration will help China continue its rapid defense modernization without creating too great a drag on its economy. Deeply-rooted barriers, redundancies, and incompatibilities between the military and civilian sectors have yet to be resolved before this integration can occur.
“It mainly means the military needs to take more advantage of civilian power in development of technology, from theory building to armour manufacturing,” said Ni Lexiong, Shanghai-based naval expert. But one obstacle to integration was the handling of classified information, Ni said. The military would need to strike a balance to ensure sensitive information remained secure but contractors could still work efficiently.
The EU Council on Foreign Relations reports that, “Since the Cultural Revolution, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has acquired civilian industries, which it has helped to protect in stormy times, and which have become a source of profits for the military.” “Dual use development has provided an indirect way to acquire foreign technologies, which could eventually be transferred to weapons production.” Technologies such as information technology, microelectronics, aerospace, and other commercial technologies are dual use that can be adopted for military purposes.
Noting that China continues to modernise its military by incorporating Western (mostly US) dual-use technologies, which have also assisted its overall indigenous industrial, military industrial, and high-technology sector development, the report said one of China’s stated national security objectives is to leverage legally and illegally acquired dual-use and military-related technologies to its advantage.
China Military and Civilian Integration Expo in Beijing
The second China Military and Civilian Integration Expo was held in Beijing’s National Convention Center. The three-day event provided an open platform for the exchange and integration of military and civilian technology.”Through in-depth development of military-civilian integration, military technologies are gradually applied in civilian fields, making high-tech equipment available to commercial markets. At the same time, we have also emphasized the importance of encouraging more civilian product suppliers to actively participate in the defense-building process,” said Dai Hao, Director-General of China’s Institute of Command and Control.
Sophisticated technologies were displayed during the Expo: These include command information system, armored vehicles for transportation, the virtual combat training system, cyber security, anti-terrorism robots, drones, unmanned patrol boat, vehicle-mounted sonic weapons, emergency rescue system, as well as border monitoring and control system. “We have the virtual combat training system here on display. Using a virtual reality technology and simulation system, 3D training scenarios could be built. With V-R facilities, soldiers could feel as if they are in a real battlefield and practice tactical combat skills,” said Zhang Ke, Vice General Manager of Beijing Huaru Technology.
“This is an autonomous boat. It can be used for hydrology research, scientific exploration, hydrographic surveys, emergency search and rescues, security patrols and other work on the seas. It can also carry unmanned underwater vehicles for performing a variety of tasks,” said Zhang Yunfei, Chairman of Yunzhou-Tech. Innovation is crucial to the competitiveness of the armed forces. Officers and researchers have been working together to enhance the efficiency of national defense systems and turn cutting-edge military technology into real combat capacity.
By now, more than 1,000 Chinese private companies have received permission to develop and produce weapons or other defense equipment, accounting for nearly 40 percent of defense equipment contractors in China, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
China’s Latest Five-Year Plan to Focus on Innovation
China’s 13th five-year plan will invest heavily in science and technology from 2016-2020 and boost science spending to 271 billion yuan (US$41 billion) this year. Among its many targets, the plan calls for an increase in R&D spending, from 2.1 per cent of GDP last year to 2.5 per cent in 2020. Other targets include improving China’s comprehensive innovation ranking from 18th now to 15th in the world; raising the global citation index of Chinese scientific papers from fourth place to second, and doubling the number of new patents filed by 2020.
“Innovation is the primary driving force for development and must occupy a central place in China’s development strategy,” said China’s top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, during his opening speech at China’s annual parliament on March 5. An outline of the plan later received pro forma approval by the National People’s Congress, the law-making body of China, on March 16.
Some of the Priority science projects in China’s 13th five-year plan (2016-2020) include Quantum communications and computation, Brain research, National cyberspace security, Deep space exploration Clean, Efficient use of coal Industrial, medical and military robots, Applications of gene science, Big data applications, Deep-sea experimental platform, New Arctic observatory and Antarctic station.
China sets targets for science and technology progress by 2020
Chinese authorities have issued a new five-year plan for science and technology progress, expecting its knowledge-intensive services to contribute 20 percent of the gross domestic product. The State Council plan lists targets for science and technology from this year through 2020 as well as government action to help realize the targets. Li Meng, vice minister of Science and Technology, says one of the targets is to lift China’s world ranking on comprehensive innovation abilities from 18th to 15th. The plan also says the number of patent applications in 2020 is expected to double that of 2015 while 60 out of every 10,000 workers are expected to be engaged in research and development by 2020.
“What does ranking 15th in the world mean? It means stepping into being a globally recognized innovative country. We are not there yet. Our science and technology contribution ratio needs to be improved from the current 55 percent to 60 percent. The knowledge intensive business services should be able to contribute 20 percent of the GDP, up from this year’s 15.6 percent. This is a key index to evaluate if a country is moving up on the value chain.”
Xu jing, head of the innovation department in Science and Technology says manned space programs and deep-sea exploration are also priorities in the country’s future research. “During the 13th five-year-plan period, we are also considering the start of a Mars exploration program as well as a study on the overall development and utilization of aerospace, including the on-orbit service and the Space-Air-Ground network. As for deep-sea resources exploration, there are still lots of key technology challenges waiting to be solved. Establishing a deep water station is also on the agenda.”
Priorities for the government over the next five years include directing resources to strategic areas, fostering creativity, creating a favorable policy environment and removing barriers to innovation. The country will spend more resources in research areas key to its national strength and security, including computer chips, integrated circuit equipment, broadband mobile telecommunication, genetic modification, and water pollution control.
China inaugurates national R&D plan
China has initiated a national key research & development (R&D) plan to streamline numerous state-funded scientific and technological programs. The plan focuses on research in fields vital to the country’s development and people’s well-being, such as agriculture, energy, the environment and health, as well as strategic fields key to industrial competitiveness, innovation and national security, said Hou Jianguo, vice minister of science and technology. The plan now covers 59 specific projects, Hou told a Ministry of Science and Technology press conference.
The plan merges several prominent state sci-tech programs, including the program 863 and program 973, focused on key fields such as biotechnology, space, information, automation, energy, new materials, telecommunications and marine technology. To address low efficiency resulting from redundant programs, over 100 programs will be merged into five plans: natural science, major sci-tech, key R&D plan, technical innovation and the sci-tech human resources. China has plans for research and exploration in materials science, neutrinos and gravitational waves. More basic researchers will be trained, and laboratories and research centers will be built, Wan said.
A key R&D plan will focus on basic research fields that address future needs, including quantum communication, life sciences, stem cells and environmental protection, said Chinese Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang. China is to improve basic research through new national sci-tech plans, told Wan.
National High Technology Program (“863”) & National Medium to Long-term Plan (MLP)
China has aimed to overcome deficiencies in areas critical to its national security ever since it initiated the National High Technology Program (“863”) in March 1986 – the most important civilian-military R&D program.
The 863 Program featured a concurrent development of dual-use technologies applicable in both civilian and military domains. Breakthroughs of the program 863 included supercomputer Tianhe-1, manned deep-sea research submersible Jiaolong, and super hybrid rice.
The program had initially focused on developing seven strategic priority areas: laser technology, space, biotechnology, information technology, automation and manufacturing technology, energy, and advanced materials. In the mid-1990s, China expanded these areas in size, scope, and importance, shifting its trajectory toward cutting-edge technological products and processes.
2006 National Medium to Long-term Plan (MLP) for the Development of Science and Technology (2005-2020) was the China’s most ambitious comprehensive national science and technology plan with special long-term total funding estimated at Rmb 500 bn (US$75bn).
Central to the MLP are 16 National Megaprojects – frontline S&T programs – “priorities of priorities” – designed to transform China’s science & technology capabilities in areas such as electronics, semiconductors, telecommunications, aerospace, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, clean energy, and oil and gas exploration. The megaprojects include both civilian and military areas, with 13 listed and three “unannounced” areas classified.
Innovation in the military should be part of the overall national approach, Xi said. A new national defence innovation mechanism should be explored to advance the deepening development of military-civilian integration, Xi said.
In response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s call, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has formed a new science and technology committee to manage defense R&D. According to a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Defense, the committee, known in Chinese as junweikejiwei, is designed to meet the needs of China’s ongoing military modernization. The committee will strengthen management of defense science and technology, promote indigenous innovation in national defense, and coordinate integrated development of military and civilian technologies, the spokesperson says.
China makes impressive military modernization, however accused of stolen designs
China has made impressive advancements in military technology: China has advanced space technologies, out of 86 space launches in 2015, China has launched 43 satellites. It is also believed to have amassed counterspace technologies. It is set to provide Beidou global navigation service similar to GPS by launching 35 satellites by 2020.
Chinese is now second nation to have two fifth generation stealth designs J-20 and J-31 aircrafts. China is developing conceptual and experimental hypersonic flight vehicle technologies such as hypersonic cruise vehicles (HCV) capable of maneuvering at Mach 5 speeds (6,150+ km/h), and flying in near-space altitudes.
China is building modern and regionally powerful navy, it has commissioned large number of long range land attack and antiship cruise missiles, warships, aircraft carrier and advanced type 094 Jin class nuclear powered ballistic submarines. China is set to launch first Quantum communications satellite this year, it has also plans to complete, longest fiber optics based quantum Network.
However China is also criticized of carrying out massive cyber espionage and stealing plans for advanced military jets, ships, and lasers. US has often accused china of using a number of methods to obtain US technology, including espionage, exploitation of commercial entities and a network of scientific, business and academic contacts. It also lacks West in many critical defense technologies like Aircraft engines.
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