How Chinese innovation drives economic growth at home and abroad
XINHUA – Milagre Abel Massingue was piloting a drone on his farm in Xai Xai city in southern Mozambique. He set up pre-mapped routes on his cell phone, and the drone started to spray pesticides accordingly.
The buzzing machine does farm work more precisely and efficiently than the 44-year-old farmer could do alone. With the help of the China-developed BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS), it could spray pesticides over about one hectare of farmland per hour, 25 times faster than manual operation.
While technological innovation nurtures modern agriculture, it has changed the life of Massingue and many other farmers on the Wanbao Mozambique rice farm. Through high-tech innovations such as the BDS, the farm has seen a 13.6-percent increase in crop yield in the last three years.
“I like what we have been doing here,” said Massingue, a father of three, who has moved to a cement dwelling from a thatched roof house and sent his eldest son to college.
“We are living a decent life because we managed to earn something through this project.”
The Mozambican farm is just one of many projects in which China shares its technology with its worldwide partners to stimulate economic vitality. Rewards are reaped on both sides.
Over the past decade, China has stepped up technology innovation to power growth, both domestically and globally, practicing “Xiconomics,” the economic philosophy of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The BDS eyes rapid development for various industrial applications in China. It is also used for land mapping, transportation, disaster relief and mitigation, precise agriculture, forestry and small ports in over 120 countries and regions.
The Chinese president has reiterated that innovation is the basis for the development of productive forces, said Diego Pautasso, visiting professor at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.
“China’s modernization is a case of great success in this direction, producing notable effects in improving people’s living conditions,” he said.
About 150 km away from Beijing, a group of engineers use drones to patrol power grids of the ultra-high-voltage (UHV) substation in Baoding city over BDS-defined paths, similar to what Massingue has done on his farm.
The super grids transmitted electricity from a renewable energy farm, about 310 km away from Baoding, and powered the Beijing Winter Olympics.
The grids of UHV projects have greater transmission capacity over long distances and can significantly reduce power losses compared with ordinary power lines.
Using the world’s most advanced power transmission technology, the UHV provides a solution to solving resource imbalances in China, the first country to fully grasp the technology and put it into commercial use. It sends excess electricity from China’s resources-rich west to the more developed east.
As of 2020, the UHV power projects have delivered 2.1 trillion kWh of electricity since the first station was put into operation in 2009 in China. The technology has not only fostered new engines of economic growth but also helped the country fulfill its carbon commitments by increasing the transmission of electricity generated by green energy.
“China’s economy has enjoyed rapid growth over the last few decades,” said John McLean, chair of the Institute of Directors for the City of London.
“To continue the growth and sustain the momentum, there has been a significant investment in scientific and technological innovation which will increase GDP (gross domestic product) and maintain China as the powerhouse for Asia.”
For Xi, innovation should never be developed and applied behind closed doors.
“Let the power of innovation drive us to upgrade our economic, energy and industrial structures, and make sure that a sound environment is there to buttress sustainable economic and social development worldwide,” said the Chinese leader.
In Brazil, a country also abundant in energy but limited by unequal distribution, a UHV power transmission lane stretching from north to south has significantly met energy needs and enhanced efficiency.
With the help of China, it is delivering electricity to where it is most needed, like an artery of Brazil’s economy, bringing benefits to 22 million Brazilians, or 10 percent of the country’s population.
“China’s cooperation with Brazil in terms of technology and innovation in a variety of sectors has already been helping the development of the Brazilian economy,” said Jose Ricardo dos Santos Luz Junior, CEO of Sao Paulo-based company LIDE China.
During the past decade, the Chinese president has been championing a people-centered development philosophy to meet the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life.
Innovation in energy transmission is an example of raising living standards. So too is China’s flourishing digital economy.
In southwestern China, Guizhou province was once home to the country’s biggest poverty-stricken population.
As China was pooling efforts to digitalise its economy, the province was determined to build a big-data industry utilizing its climate and geographical advantages.
Today, the province is among the regions with the most mega-data centers globally. In 2021, the digital economy contributed about 34 percent to Guizhou’s GDP and helped lift 9.23 million people out of poverty.
Developing a digital economy is a strategic choice for grasping the new opportunities in the new round of revolution in science and technology and industrial transformation, Xi said when presiding over a study session of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee last year.
“The philosophy of President Xi Jinping about high-quality development through technology innovation can be already seen in China’s move by investing a lot on research and development,” Luz said.
In the Global Innovation Index, China moved up in the rankings from 14th in 2020 to 12th in 2021 among 132 economies.
Regarding efforts to digitalise its economy, China has ranked second in the world for years, according to statistics from the Global Digital Economy Conference.
Meanwhile, with China’s help, many developing countries have had their first taste of success in digital transformation with the development of e-commerce.
Sitoyo Lopokoiyit, CEO of Africa’s leading fintech platform operator M-Pesa Africa, said that secure, stable and innovative technology provided by Chinese companies has transformed millions of lives in Africa.
“As an example for myself, my family is 550 km from Nairobi. And it meant taking a whole day’s journey to go and give my mother money every other time,” Lopokoiyit said. The technology “changed it all and has been key in driving financial inclusion across the African continent.”
From cooperation on soybean breeding with Thailand to collaboration with Europe on optical fibers, from providing communication services via satellite in Algeria to jointly exploring new perspectives on prevention and treatment of cancer in China’s space station, China has been honoring its commitments to promoting common prosperity through cooperation on innovations that change the lives of people, like Massingue and Lopokoiyit.
Following Xi’s vision for development featuring innovative, coordinated, green, open, and shared growth, China has grown its economy in a way that benefits its people and people around the world.
“These development concepts did not emerge from the ether,” Xi said, “they came from the domestic and foreign experience of development, and from analysis of both domestic and foreign trends in development.”