The Power of Innovation
Innovation The Power of VOLUME 836
In recent years, China has made successive breakthroughs in scientific and technological innovation as well as major project construction. The Huiyan, China’s first X-ray astronomical satellite, was launched, the C919, China’s first large passenger airplane, made its maiden flight, the world’s first quantum computer was born in China, seawater paddy fields began trial operation, China’s first homegrown aircraft carrier was launched, and the Haiyi underwater glider finished its first deep-sea exploration.
China has made tremendous progress in technological development and become a torchbearer in innovation, which has become an important driving force for the country’s growth.
On January 1, 2018, the 2017 State Science and Technology Awards honored 271 projects in three categories―the State Natural Science Award, National Science and Technology Progress Award and State Technological Invention Award―and awarded nine individual scientists. Wang Zeshan, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) and professor at Nanjing University of Science and Technology, and Hou Yunde, also an academician at the CAE and head of the Institute of Pathogen Biology at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, won the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award, China’s highest scientific honor, which was presented by Chinese President Xi Jinping. And seven foreign scientists won the state award for international scientific and technological cooperation.
Born in 1935, Wang Zeshan claims he is a man of limited abilities. “I discovered I excelled at only one thing in the world,” he explained. “I’m not good at anything except researching explosives.” Over the past 63 years, he has dedicated himself to improving explosives.
Wang chose explosive science when he was enrolled in Harbin Military Engineering College in 1954, and it was not a popular major. Seeing that so few people dared study it, he felt the discipline was sorely needed by the country. At that point, “do what my country needs me to do” became his life-long motto.
“By following and copying others, we’ll always be restricted,” insists Wang. “Our technology needs to lead the world.” As early as the 1980s, he and his team overcame the problems related to recycling spent explosives by transforming them into civilian and military products. This won him the first prize of the National Science and Technology Progress Award in 1993. In the 1990s, Wang developed new materials that are resistant to changes in temperature to improve the energy utilization and long-term storage of some explosives. This world-stunning breakthrough won him the sole first prize of the State Technological Invention Award in 1996.
Winning such awards was never the end goal for Wang. Long after he reached retirement age, Wang and his team continued to explore new research areas.
In 2016, after two decades of efforts, Wang and his team solved emerging technical problems in explosives for long-range and high-velocity weapons that had bothered his international colleagues for a long time.
Subsequently, Wang took China’s highest scientific honor once again, becoming one of only a handful to win all of the nation’s three state-class science and technology awards.
Upgrading “Made in China”
An 800KV ultra-high-voltage directcurrent transmission project launched by State Grid Corporation is one of the 217 projects to win this year’s State Science and Technology Awards. It boasted the highest voltage, greatest capacity and furthest direct-current transmission technology in the world.
Today, economic growth depends increasingly on energy while the ecological environment demands cleaner power. Over 80 percent of China’s energy resources are distributed through the western and northern areas, while over 70 percent of power consumption is concentrated in the eastern and middle parts. The vast area involved in the west-to-east electricity transmission strategy extends from 1,000 to more than 2,000 kilometers, requiring a grid with large capacity and high efficiency.
Using the technological breakthrough in power transmission, China built 12 ultra-high voltage direct-current transmission systems capable of transiting 93.6 million kilowatts in total. Over 80 percent of the power comes from clean energy sources, cutting 170 million tons of coal consumption and 450 million tons of carbon emissions. The project has transferred the resource advantages of China’s western areas into economic growth, promoted an energy revolution and laid a solid foundation for the prevention of air pollution and the construction of a beautiful China.
In 2014 and 2015, State Grid Corporation won successive bidding for the first and second phases of an 800KV ultra-highvoltage direct-current transmission project in Brazil’s Belo Monte. The company also conducted project feasibility studies for ultrahigh-voltage direct-current transmission interconnection projects with Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. Featuring a complete industrial chain and value chain, the company has earned US$35 billion from international cooperation projects.
“The invention of ultra-high-voltage
technology has brought great changes to the world,” says Shu Yinbiao, chairman of the corporation. “The project has become a sterling brand and set high standards for others in the construction of the Belt and Road.”
Chinese Immune System
Newly emerging infectious diseases and outbreaks have posed great threats and challenges for mankind. The 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndromes (SARS) outbreak caused great pain and remains fresh in Chinese people’s memories. One prize this year was awarded to a technology related to the prevention and control of human infection of H7N9 bird flu.
In 2013 after a strain of the avian influenza virus took many lives, Li Lanjuan, an academician of the CAE and dean of the State Key Laboratory for Infectious Diseases Diagnosis and Treatment at Zhejiang University, was assigned to research and combat the virus.
Li suggested the live-bird markets be shut down. After considerable efforts, she and her team made some major breakthroughs: They invented “Li’s artificial liver,” founded new etiology, discovered the source of infection, verified the pathogenesis, carried out clinical treatment and developed a new vaccine and diagnostic techniques, effectively controlling the spread of the H7N9 virus.
Systemic and technological breakthroughs in emerging infectious disease prevention and treatment have protected Chinese people’s health and resulted in rich Chinese experience that can be shared with the world. International Cooperation
Since 1995, China has bestowed prizes upon 113 foreign experts and three international organizations to honor their contributions to international scientific and technological cooperation. This year, seven foreign experts were honored. Shavkat Salikhov, director of the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan, was among them.
As early as 15 years ago, Salikhov began collaborating with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Over a decade and a half, the two sides jointly educated over 20 postgraduates, exchanged 20 visiting scholars and conducted 10 scientific research projects.
In 2013, after a proposal by Salikhov, China and Uzbekistan began jointly building the Central Asian Center for Research and Development of Medicines in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan. The center is dedicated to producing medicines that utilize natural advantages of Central Asia, promoting Chinese medicine to Central Asia and Europe and popularizing Uzbek medicine with the Chinese public.
“Foreign experts have raised the levels of China’s international cooperation on scientific and technological innovation,” declares Chen Zhimin, deputy director of the Office for Science and Technology Awards. “By honoring them with awards, we hope to encourage more foreign scientists and organizations to work with our country’s technological movers and shakers.”
September 6, 2017: Technicians work on a ±800KV ultra-high-voltage direct-current transmission project from northwestern Yunnan Province to Guangdong Province. Xinhua
June 24, 2014: China’s homegrown deep-sea manned submersible Jiaolong is lowered into the water. The next day, its mothership Xiangyanghong 09 took it to the northwestern Pacific Ocean for a trial. VCG
October 31, 2017: Li Jiayang (left), an academician with the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, checks rice growth. Li’s new breed of rice won first prize at the State Natural Science Awards. Xinhua June 5, 2016: Visitors at an exhibition surveying China’s technological achievements during its 12th Five-year Plan (20112015). China’s homegrown Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) is the third mature global navigation satellite system after the U.S.’ GPS and Russia’s GLONASS. VCG
December 9, 2016: A photomontage shows a laser being fired from a ground station in Ngari Prefecture in southwestern China’s Tibet Autonomous Region to the orbiting Mozi, the world’s first quantum satellite, to conduct a quantum teleportation experiment. Xinhua