China’s achievements in sci-tech innovation lauded by participants to 2024 ZGC Forum

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The 2024 Zhongguancun Forum (ZGC Forum) was held in Beijing from April 25 to 29. Themed “Innovating for a Better World,” the forum focused on cutting-edge and trending topics such as artificial intelligence (AI), space science, life and health, carbon peaking and neutrality, and future industries. 

Scientists, business leaders, government officials, and representatives from international organizations from over 100 countries and regions came together for in-depth discussions and innovative solutions.

Foreign participants said China’s focus on innovation-driven development has emerged as a standout feature of the country’s economic and social development, propelling technological breakthroughs and fostering new industries, new business models, and new drivers of growth.

They noted that China is committed to true multilateralism and shares the benefits of innovation with other countries, thereby contributing to global development.

At the Zhongguancun International Innovation Center, a new venue for ZGC Forum, many participants are interacting with bionic humanoid robots. With natural facial expressions and body movements, the robot was able to fluently answer visitors’ inquiries about the forum’s location, schedule, and other information. 

Such new technologies, products and ideas were everywhere in the venue.

“Chinese modernization and the innovation-driven development strategy have made significant contributions to world economic growth and sustainable development,” said Marco Aleman, Assistant Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). 

He further noted that China ranked 12th in the Global Innovation Index 2023 released by the WIPO, the only middle-income economy in the top 30. Besides, China has become the economy with the most “top 100 science and technology clusters” worldwide.

“These achievements were made possible by careful planning and effective policy implementation,” Aleman added.

Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency, lauded China for its well-defined research and innovation objectives in clean energy and the effective actions it has implemented to reach them. 

He noted the critical role China has played in making photovoltaic technology more affordable, highlighting the profound implications this will have on emission reduction efforts in China and other countries.

Antonius H.J. Bisseling, a professor at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands and a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, was impressed by China’s rapid technological advancements over the past 20 years. 

Bisseling made his first trip to China in 2003 and has witnessed the remarkable progress made by the country. He said China has significantly reduced the manufacturing costs of new energy vehicles, lithium batteries, and photovoltaic products, while also expanding their applications, which has greatly aided global efforts to reduce emissions. “The solar panel installed in my house last year was sourced from China,” said the professor.

The ZGC Forum is a national-level platform of China that aims to promote exchange and cooperation in global scientific and technological innovation. It has successfully held 14 sessions so far. 

This year, “exchange” and “cooperation” remained buzzwords at the event. Foreign guests said that China actively fosters an open innovation ecosystem, expands international scientific and technological exchanges and cooperation, and provides an internationally competitive and attractive environment for innovation.

“China’s development in science and technology is impressive,” said Astrid Scherer, vice president of German multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology company Bayer. She highlighted China’s fast-paced R&D and advanced AI technology in healthcare, which are driving progress in clinical development both in China and around the world.

“China is a huge market with enormous opportunities,” said Johann Lohn, honorary chairman of the Steinbeis foundation, an institution headquarter in Germany dedicated to the technology and knowledge transfer between universities and the economy. 

“With a robust and vibrant innovation ecosystem, Beijing has become a prominent innovation city globally. We plan to leverage our innovation network to establish our China headquarter and an international collaborative innovation center in Beijing, supporting talent development and international technology transfer in digital healthcare and green energy,” Lohn said.

Mustafa Shehu, President of the World Federation of Engineering Organizations, noted that the world is experiencing unprecedented technological transformation, accompanied by uncertainties. 

“In the face of these changes and challenges, international cooperation is no longer a choice but a necessity,” said Shehu, encouraging active communication, insight exchanges, and collaborative partnerships. Through collective efforts, the innovative ideas generated at the forum can be translated into practical solutions, he added.

Quarraisha Abdool Karim, president of the World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) lauded the long-term collaboration between the TWAS and China. 

“We share a common vision of promoting sustainable development through technology and innovation,” Karim said. She further highlighted China’s achievements in this regard, which have enabled low- and middle-income countries and technologically disadvantaged nations to nurture a group of outstanding scientists, develop scientific infrastructure, and enhance the well-being of their citizens.



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