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'New tech ministry means stronger development'

2023-03-16 HKT 10:13
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  • China is aiming to become technologically self-reliant more quickly. File photo: AFP
    China is aiming to become technologically self-reliant more quickly. File photo: AFP
An economics scholar said the move by Beijing to revamp the Ministry of Science and Technology will pave the way for more efficient development in the field, in line with the nation's goal to achieve technological self-reliance.

The restructured ministry, which was approved during the recently concluded "Two Sessions" meeting of China's top political bodies, will be overseen by the new Central Science and Technology Commission.

Officials said the restructuring will set the stage for the stronger use of science and technology for modernisation.

Jiarui Zhang, a fellow with a mainland think tank Taihe Institute, said the move will enable Beijing to set a focus for the research and development of new technologies, instead of leaving it up to private companies.

"They realised in the past there were many firms taking advantage... because there were government subsidies, but in fact the research and the development of technology was quite inefficient," said Zhang, who is also an assistant professor in economics with Nottingham University in Ningbo, China.

The academic said the ministry will also have stronger power in allocating financial and manpower resources to particular fields of research, with healthcare, artificial intelligence and semiconductors among the focus areas.

He said it is important for China to become technologically self-reliant, partly because of the export controls on high-tech products imposed by the United States.

Being self-sufficient, Zhang said, also means the country will not have supply chain issues like it did during the pandemic when transportation links around the world were interrupted.

He said China will enjoy higher economic growth by developing science and technology.

"In the past, China is quite at the bottom at the world's value chain, because China is like a factory for manufacturing," he said. "The higher [part of] the value chain is always the peak technologies, research and development. So this is very important from the economic point of view."

'New tech ministry means stronger development'