China's sci-tech progress not to be hammered by technology blockade

Source: Xinhua  Editor: huaxia  2022-10-14 00:00:45 by Xinhua writers Zhang Yisheng, Zhao Bochao

 

China's home-grown super-large-diameter shield tunneling machine "Jinghua" bored through water-rich and high-density sand during a reconstruction project in Beijing, creating a new monthly tunneling world record of 542 meters.

 

The technological feat wouldn't have been imagined in the 1990s when China was unable to build the shield tunneling machine by itself. With the technology monopolized by foreign countries, China had to import such machines at very high prices.

 

A decade ago, knowing China didn't have the ability to produce the equipment, a foreign company set the price of a super-large-diameter shield tunneling machine as high as 700 million yuan (97.51 million U.S. dollars), Yang Hui, a Chinese designer of shield tunneling machine, said in an interview. "However, this prompted us to make our own," he added.

 

Because of that, China made up its mind to pool resources to advance its technology and has managed to produce the machine independently. Nowadays, home-grown shield machines have a domestic market share of over 90 percent, and a global market share of around 70 percent.

 

The home-made shield machine has become a symbol of China's manufacture capability, and an example of China's fast sci-tech development despite foreign technology blockade.

 

SCI-TECH Self-strengthening

 

The U.S. government has recently tightened its controls on semiconductor chip exports to China, a hegemonic sci-tech step aimed at hobbling China's access to cutting-edge technologies.

 

Many industry insiders believe while China's chip industry has to brace for the pain, Washington's technology bullying to keep Beijing down will only accelerate Beijing's push to further improve research originality and strive for more breakthroughs, just like what it achieved in making shield machines.

 

For years, Chinese scientists have succeeded in building the country into a leader in science and technology, and achieving self-reliance and self-improvement in sci-tech at higher levels.

 

Take China's space industry as an example. The country has continuously made new advancements in this field, including the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) satellites, Chang'e lunar probes, Tianwen-1 Mars probe, as well as the Tiangong space station and its core module Tianhe.

 

On Sunday, China sent a solar exploration satellite into space, furthering the country's scientific endeavor to unravel the mysteries of the Sun.

 

The great strides China has made in space industry, in some sense, were pushed by the United States, which adopted the Wolf Amendment in 2011 to hinder China's development in the field.

 

In a bid to prevent technology transfers with China, the law prohibited the U.S. space agency NASA from engaging in direct bilateral cooperation with Beijing, thus depriving Chinese spacefarers of access to the International Space Station since then. However, China's progress in promoting self-reliance and self-improvement in aerospace has proved the U.S. manoeuvre is but a vain attempt.

 

Peter Wennink, head of Dutch chip printing giant ASML, was quoted in media reports as saying that Washington's anti-China tech blockade is a bad idea that will backfire. The export controls against China will not only fail to stop its technological progress but also hurt the U.S. economy.

 

"If you shut out the Chinese with export control measures, you'll force them to strive toward tech sovereignty, in their case real tech sovereignty ... In 15 years' time they'll be able to do it all by themselves," he told POLITICO in an interview.

 

More global cooperation

 

China's independent innovation does not mean working behind closed doors. The country has actually made remarkable contributions to the sci-tech innovation of humankind.

 

China's commitment to independent innovation and global cooperation is best illustrated by the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the world's largest single-dish radio telescope.

 

Starting formal operations on Jan. 11, 2020, FAST has been available for scientists across the world since March 2021, which is a manifestation of the country's openness to international collaboration.

 

Fully aware that independent innovation should be pursued in an open environment, China has been actively sharing BDS achievements with the world. BDS-related products, technologies and services have been applied in more than half of all countries around the world, said the China Satellite Navigation Office.

 

In the tunnel-boring sector, China's home-grown products have been exported to more than 30 countries and regions, serving the construction of tunnels and subways around the world.

 

Up to now, China has established a sci-tech cooperation relationship with more than 160 countries and regions, and joined more than 200 international organizations and multilateral mechanisms.

 

Thanks to its greater focus on independent innovation and international cooperation, China moved up to the 11th place in the 2022 Global Innovation Index (GII) and firmly remains the only middle-income economy in the top 30, showed the latest ranking published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

 

"China's growth (in GII ranking) from 34th ten years ago to 11th (in 2022) ... is really spectacular. The close attention paid by the government and the country to innovation as an engine of growth is paying off," WIPO Director General Daren Tang said at the press launch of GII 2022.

 

"China nurtures its innovation ecosystem in a holistic, comprehensive manner," he said. 

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