Speakers stress structural solutions can overcome problems, promote development
Editor's Note: The advent of the digital era has established beyond any doubt the symbiotic relationship between science, technology and innovation on the one side and social and economic growth on the other — something that the key report delivered to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China highlighted, while urging more efforts toward Chinese modernization. To imbibe the spirit of that philosophy enshrined in the report, China Daily, in association with the University of Oxford, organized an online forum on Friday. The following special report encapsulates key insights on the theme shared by experts during the forum.
Qu Yingpu, publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily, addresses the forum themed "South-South Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation" held online on Friday. (CHEN ZEBING / CHINA DAILY)
Technological innovation and the application of emerging digital technologies are playing an increasingly important role in promoting South-South cooperation, boosting the governance capacities of developing countries and creating greater synergy in their development, speakers said at an online forum on Friday.
Qu Yingpu, publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily, highlighted that scientific innovation and the application of new technologies serve as a structural solution to the problems confronting the Global South in its development
Qu Yingpu, publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily, highlighted that scientific innovation and the application of new technologies serve as a structural solution to the problems confronting the Global South in its development.
A report delivered to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China stressed the need to "regard science and technology as our primary productive force, talent as our primary resource and innovation as our primary driver of growth".
Noting that China attaches great importance to scientific and technological development and international cooperation, Qu said, "Over the past decade, the contribution of science and technology to China's economic growth has increased remarkably, which has paved a solid foundation for the country to advance Chinese modernization."
ALSO READ:Spirit of unity guides APEC leaders on growth
He also said the Chinese path to modernization provides an alternative way for countries to achieve rapid development while preserving their independence.
"China is committed to be a builder of world peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of the international order. It is also a key participant of, and a contributor to, global development cooperation. From a global strategic perspective, stronger South-South cooperation will help promote democracy in international relations," Qu said.
Hosted by the China Watch Institute of China Daily and the Technology and Management Center for Development, which is part of the University of Oxford, the forum themed "South-South Cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation" was held online on Friday.
Qu said the purpose of holding this forum is to share the experience of sustainable development and build consensus for promoting South-South cooperation, thus contributing to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
He called for efforts to enhance South-North cooperation and deepen South-South cooperation, and align the Global Development Initiative with the existing development and cooperation strategies of participating countries to generate greater synergy in global development.
ALSO READ: AI industry in China gaining global influence
Fu Xiaolan, fellow of the British Academy of Social Sciences, and professor and director of the Technology and Management Center for Development at the University of Oxford, said that innovation is an important driver of long-term economic growth and sustainable development, and emphasized the significance of international cooperation in science, technology and innovation.
"The rise of the innovation capabilities in the Global South, especially the emerging economies, has provided a very important addition and alternative for the other developing countries in terms of technology transfer and innovation collaboration," Fu said.
Fu further said that findings from a case study of Chinese tech heavyweight Tencent suggested the changes in the value of a firm from "managing people" to "serving people" play a very important role in motivating and empowering people for better innovation.
It is clear that digital technologies will transform lives and livelihoods by fundamentally and irrevocably changing how people, businesses and governments interact, said Sonia Bashir Kabir, vice co-chair of the Council of United Nations Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries.
She said the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the weaknesses of existing systems, and countries with stronger digital infrastructure were able to mount faster, more effective responses.
With the blossoming of 5G, big data, artificial intelligence and other innovative digital technologies, the digital economy is gradually becoming the integral driving force for economic growth. According to a white paper released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, the scale of China's digital economy reached 45.5 trillion yuan ($6.39 trillion) in 2021, accounting for 39.8 percent of the country's GDP.
The countries of the South have contributed more than half of the world's growth in recent years. Intra-South trade is higher than ever, accounting for more than a quarter of all world trade, according to the United Nations.
Zhou Taidong, associate research fellow of the Development Research Center of the State Council, said digital technological innovation is injecting unprecedented momentum into the global economy and is propelling the economy and society toward a more intelligent and smarter era.
Zhou noted that strengthening cooperation in digital technology and intelligent science and technology among developing countries is becoming increasingly important and should be a key area of South-South cooperation in the future.
ALSO READ: APEC economic leaders highlight sustainable growth
Zhou's views were echoed by Nobuya Haraguchi, chief of the Industrial Policy Research Unit at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, who said advanced digital technologies are driving industrial growth across countries, and digitalization is also supporting industrial firms' resilience during the pandemic.
"The innovation of digital technologies and digital economy provide a vast space for international cooperation, especially among developing countries," said Cheng Hua, executive director of the Center for Digital Economy Research at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, adding promoting international cooperation through platform innovation requires good regulatory coordination among countries and clear regulations that are inclusive and prudent.
What they say
Fu Xiaolan, fellow of the British Academy of Social Sciences, professor and director of the Technology and Management Center for Development at the University of Oxford
It is important to promote the innovative application of digital technologies and share the benefits of innovation with the global community.
It is also important to leverage digital technology to fill the (development) gap and allow developing countries to join the digital wave.
South-South cooperation in science, technology and innovation (STI) is not only about cooperation on STI but also cooperation and coordination on STI policies and management practices that incentivize, promote, nurture and support innovation and technology transfer.
Innovation is an important driver of long-term economic growth and sustainable development.
I see greater innovation from Tencent.
Through a study on the company, we found a value change: the employees feel the company has put people first, and the company has shown a willingness to serve the employees instead of managing them.
We also found Tencent emphasizes self-motivation and autonomy of people. When employees can find their own passions and stay energetic, then the organization will be more dynamic.
Zhou Taidong, associate research fellow of the Development Research Center of the State Council
Different forms of technical assistance have always been a key feature in China's foreign aid programs including equipment donations, agricultural demonstration centers and joint laboratories.
While infrastructure connectivity remains at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative, the BRI has evolved into "a road of science and technology" that places innovation high on the agenda.
In addition, digital technological innovation is injecting unprecedented momentum into the global economy and is propelling both the economy and society toward a more intelligent and smarter era. Practice has proved that digital technology can be applied in the least-developed regions of the world, providing more convenient trade, and financial and social services.
The fast-moving technology frontier offers some developing countries the opportunity to leapfrog. Going forward, the digital economy is potentially the largest and most important opportunity for dynamic change in sustainable development worldwide.
Sonia Bashir Kabir, vice co-chair of the Council of United Nations Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries
South-South cooperation refers to the technical cooperation among developing countries in the Global South. The countries of the South have contributed to more than half the world's growth in recent years; intra-South trade is higher than ever, accounting for more than a quarter of all world trade; and the outflows of foreign direct investment from the South represent a third of the global flows.
Together with political dialogue and financial cooperation, South-South cooperation promotes a large number of experiential and expertise exchanges that can help solve specific problems.
Facing the COVID-19 pandemic, there are challenges such as the digital divide, low digital literacy and a lack of relevant applications in certain areas. It is necessary to leverage technology to create a "digital financial footprint" to serve the under-served, promote innovation and new business models, increase people's digital skills and promote digital governance such as developing a rational, legal framework for data protection and cybersecurity to build trust in regulatory systems.
Nobuya Haraguchi, chief of the Industrial Policy Research Unit at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization
Digital technologies are reshaping the industrial landscape. They are driving change at the firm level, supporting industrial firms' resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysis based on the UNIDO 2021 survey, namely "The impact of COVID-19 on manufacturing firms around the world", showed that digitally advanced firms suffered less impact than the rest.
Digital technologies are also driving industrial growth across countries. China ranks in the top category of production and use of digital technologies. According to the analysis done in the IDR 2020, China is one of the 10 front-runners in the production and use of these technologies by ranking very high both in terms of patenting activity (ranked 4th) and in terms of exporting capital goods that embed these technologies (ranked 3rd) and is the only developing country that made it to the top category.
Cheng Hua, executive director of the Center for Digital Economy Research at Renmin University of China
The innovation of digital technologies and the digital economy provide a vast space for international cooperation, especially among developing countries. The development and innovation of digital platforms, such as Tencent and Huawei, chase the maximum scale of networks and build the internal ecosystem, which naturally triggers the motivation to search and expand the space of international cooperation.
From the perspective of platform economy development in China, platforms play an extremely important role in filling the digital divide both domestically and internationally. This economy possesses the characteristics of accessibility, promoting the communication of information and knowledge, as well as helping and educating vulnerable groups. In addition, with the construction of ecosystem, the platforms include vulnerable groups in the market of employment, providing a large space for niche products.
The platforms, sitting at the edge of technology, are one of the most important powers participating in and building the digital infrastructure. However, the growth and development of platforms bring new challenges to the supervision of the market. It is essential to have inter-country regulatory coordination, on issues such as cross-border data and clear regulations that are inclusive and prudent.