APEC MEETING

Humanity will gain from China’s next level sci-tech innovations

The country is already seen as the first Artificial Intelligence superpower

In Summary

•Experts view these sentiments as representing China’s resolve to reclaim its global leadership position in science and technology, which it once held for centuries.

•As of September, China had over 110 million 5G users and was expected to have erected an estimated 600,000 5G base stations in all major cities by the end of the year. 

China Telecom technicians set up a 5G base station near the Yellow River in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province in northwestern China, on May 16, 2019.
AHEAD OF THE PACK: China Telecom technicians set up a 5G base station near the Yellow River in Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province in northwestern China, on May 16, 2019.
Image: Reuters

Although the 27th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' meeting this year was held virtually, the messages delivered hit home with the desired import.

Likewise, although the APEC event sounds exclusive to the Asia-Pacific region, the CEO Dialogues is a conversation that actually encompasses the whole world.

During his keynote address from Beijing on Thursday, President Xi Jinping talked about China’s adoption of a new paradigm shift in the country’s development strategy based both on the internal status quo and developments surrounding economic globalisation. In undertaking the foregoing, Xi stated that China “will vigorously make scientific and technological innovations to foster new growth drivers”.

Xi stated that "as China enters a new stage of development, factors of production underpinning its development have gone through profound changes. This means that China must pursue innovation to achieve high-quality growth driven by domestic demand."

The message here underpins China’s newly adopted dual approach to its development consisting of both internal and external circulation, with the domestic market as the mainstay while at the same time staying open.

To the lay person, it looks like China has reached the pinnacle of its scientific and technological advancement. Indeed, Xi’s comments might sound intimidating since the country is now a global leader in sci-tech, as erstwhile industrial powers especially in the West now play catch-up.

President Xi Jinping: A new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation is gathering pace.
President Xi Jinping: A new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation is gathering pace.
Image: Reuters

In the president’s words, a new round of technological revolution and industrial transformation is gathering pace, and science and technology are playing a more significant role in boosting social productivity. Putting high technology at the core of development will give more room for the advancement of humanity.

Experts view these sentiments as representing China’s resolve to reclaim its global leadership position in science and technology, which it once held for centuries. According to historical accounts, Chinese discoveries and innovations such as papermaking, printing, the compass, and gunpowder, known as the Four Great Inventions, contributed immensely to the economic development in East Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

This is actually what is already happening, albeit this time on a global scale. In a research article titled “China’s rise as a major contributor to science and technology” published on June 16, 2014 by Yu Xie, Chunni Zhang, and Qing Lai in the US’ National Academy of Sciences, “China has become a major contributor to science and technology” in the last three decades.

According to the article, four factors have favoured the country’s continuing rise in science, namely: a large population and human capital base, a labor market favoring academic meritocracy, a large diaspora of Chinese-origin scientists, and a centralised government willing to invest in science.

FACTORS FAVOURING CHINA'S RISE IN SCIENCE

• A large population and human capital base.

• Labour market favouring academic meritocracy

•Large diaspora of Chinese-origin scientists

• Centralised government willing to invest in science.

Indeed, the Chinese government’s futuristic development policies have been crucial in the country’s amazing sci-tech innovations. Two major examples suffice as evidence of this leadership - the 2019 unveiling of one of the world’s largest' 5G networks, and what Fabian J. G. Westerheide, CEO of AI for Humans calls “The First Artificial Intelligence Superpower”.

As of September, China had over 110 million 5G users and was expected to have erected an estimated 600,000 5G base stations in all major cities by the end of the year. Already, countries around the world are looking up to plug in China’s 5G internet connectivity to reap the benefits of faster data download and upload speeds, stable connections and wider coverage.

China is combining 5G and other cutting edge digital technologies like big data, cloud computing and AI to bring other sectors up to speed in boosting economic growth. The second biggest economy is now credited with owning the largest AI ecosystem, supported by a massive amount of data, talent, research and investment.

This holistic digital infrastructure has been deployed across critical sectors to generate new business models in order to enhance efficiency by reducing waste and optimising resource utilisation including industrial production, medicine and education.

The world’s largest radio telescope, which is big as 30 football fields, in Pingtang county, southwest China's Guizhou province.
INNOVATION: The world’s largest radio telescope, which is big as 30 football fields, in Pingtang county, southwest China's Guizhou province.

In his APEC speech on Friday, Xi reiterated the fact that APEC’s multilateral and fruitful partnership can serve as the world’s shining example. The Asia-Pacific region is responsible for key innovations that have driven economic development both within and externally from its ample human, technological and market resources.

At this time that much of the world is generally experiencing negative growth or stagnating due to the devastating socio-economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic, there was a call “for experience sharing among APEC members on how to control Covid-19 and achieve economic recovery with digital technologies”.

Undoubtedly, the Asia-Pacific region has contributed immensely to the development paradigm shift in recent years through life-changing sci-tech innovations.

APEC’s success both individually and collectively shows that the dividing factor that separates human beings across the East-West North-South divide is simply racial and ideological, nothing fundamentally human. The creation of great science and technology innovations will help in building a global community with a shared future for mankind.