The Way Forward…

China affects us all – not even the Nordics are immune to their power, influence and economic & social development. This is the final paper of a series of five interesting new articles about China’s latest 5-year plan that were written and originally published by four independent experts – Dr. Nannan Lundin, Linnea Yang, Jessica Zhang and Matilde Eng, all of whom work at the Swedish Embassy in Beijing. There are five parts to this series are the Big Picture, Innovation China, Digital China, Carbon Neutral China and TheWay Forward.

The Way Forward

The 14th Five Year Plan (FYP) is now launched in a special and pivoting time for China’s transformation, i.e. in a new development stage, where China is in search for a new development model and entering a new development landscape, both nationally and internationally.

With this overarching and strategic blue print in place, and looking forward, we note the devil in the detail. As with the 13th FYP, having China’s innovation-driven strategy as guidance, many plans, programs and strategies will follow, at sectoral and cross-sectoral levels as well as at regional and local levels.

So, what can we anticipate in the coming months, particularly in the fields of science, innovation and sustainability?

Simply put, we believe that the following trends will emerge, or are already happening:

  • Quick actions will be taken – given the urgent needs domestically as well as the complex global environment.
  • Deep and new changes will be taken – given the great importance attached to structural measures as well as the key role of research and innovation in China’s transformation. For instance, we already see new initiatives related to the structural changes in China’s basic research funding systems and the development of new types of research institutes and universities. In addition, how research and innovation is now more closely aligned with the sustainability agenda, such as “missions” to accomplish carbon-peak and carbon-neutrality. In the field of climate change we will most likely see that China’s policy drivers and investment drivers for carbon-neutrality will compensate the weaker carbon-pricing mechanism – as a key to enhancing China’s climate ambition and making real change on the ground.
  • “Duel-circulation” type of thinking could also be appliable in the fields of research and innovation. This implies that self-strengthening and self-reliance will be more important. At the same time, openness and cooperation will also be there – with new and mutually agreed terms, for mutual interests and benefits.

Finally, from the perspective of bilateral and international cooperation, China’s new strengths in research and innovation as well as China’s new ambition on climate actions will, and should be, seen as both competition and opportunity. When the competition is getting increasingly intense and close, the premises and process of grasping the opportunities will be more complex and demanding. The benefits can also be greater and it is more about what and how, rather than if we should engage and co-create – particularly when we look for win-win, not lose-lose in our battle against global challenges, for our planet and our common future.

A very intense, challenging, but inspiring time ahead for all of us. Will be continued and will be in touch…

Dr. Nannan Lundin, Linnea Yang, Jessica Zhang and Matilde Eng, from the Swedish Embassy in Beijing.

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