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Remarks at the Virtual High-level Thematic Debate on the Impact of Rapid Technological Change on the Sustainable Development Goals and Targets by He Fuxiang, Counselor of The Permanent Mission of the PRC to the United Nations


Mr. Chair,

China thanks PGA for convening this important meeting when COVID-19 continues spreading across the world. Although COVID-19 poses unprecedented challenges to mankind, our firm resolve to achieve SDGs must not change. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of achieving SDGs, including the goal of universal health coverage.

Mr. President,

COVID-19 is a common challenge facing mankind. Solidarity and cooperation is the fundamental guarantee for winning the battle against the pandemic. Science technology and innovation (STI) is not only a powerful weapon to fight COVID-19, but also an essential means to achieve SDGs and build a bright future shared by all. The UN attaches great importance to STI, especially the important role of emerging technologies in achieving SDGs, and has carried out a lot of fruitful work. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some of China’s practices of STI in promoting sustainability.

First, with a strong political will to build an "innovative country", China has made STI a national development strategy, which is integrated into the country’s economic and social development plan. China formulates five-year plans for STI as part of its five-year plans of economic and social development. China has also drawn up the medium- and long-term outline for science and technology development. China is currently formulating the outline for science and technology development during 2021-2035. In such plans and outlines, targets, budgets, measures, and frameworks of leadership are well defined.

Second, China continues to increase investment in STI, and greatly improves its STI capability. In 2018, China's R&D expenditure was 1967.79 billion yuan, accounting for 2.19% of its GDP, surpassing the average level of 15 EU countries. From 2012 to 2017, China's R&D expenditure increased by 70.9%. In 2018, China’s Gross R&D Equivalent (GRDE) was 4.18 million person-years, ranking the first in the world. China ranks the second in terms of numbers of international scientific publications and citations, and the first in terms of numbers of invention patent applications and grants. The high-tech industry has developed rapidly. In 2018, the total output of China's high-tech industrial development zones was 11.1 trillion yuan, accounting for 12% of GDP. According to the World Intellectual Property organization Report, China ranked the 14th in 2019 Global Innovation Index, rising from the 17th place in 2018.

Third, China gives full play to the important role of STI in achieving SDGs. First, information and communication technology (ICT) is fully used to build a digital China. China has built the world's largest optical fiber and 4G networks, which cover more than 98% of China’s villages. Broadband fiber network access rate is 93%, the highest in the world. China has 1.28 billion 4G users, accounting for more than 30% of the world’s total. China is vigorously developing 5G, artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, Internet of Things, cloud computing and other digital industries, and at the same time, increasing the application of digital technology in industrial Internet, smart city, telemedicine, e-government, online education, intelligent transportation and other fields. In 2019, China’s 5G and blockchain patents ranked the first in the world, and the number of blockchain enterprises ranked the second. Second, emerging technology is fully applied in ecological and environmental conservation to build a beautiful China. As China's ability of energy technology innovation continues to improve, its energy efficiency has grown significantly. In 2018, China's energy consumption per unit of GDP decreased by 43.1% compared with 1953. As an important measure for the Chinese government to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the State Council has approved the establishment of national sustainable development innovation demonstration areas in 6 cities, including Shenzhen and Guilin, integrating advanced technologies such as clean energy, intelligent transportation, and ecological environmental protection to develop a comprehensive demonstration area. In order to accelerate the application of green technologies, the Chinese government has also set up a green technology bank to finance the commercialization of green technology achievements, with an initial investment of 3.5 billion yuan. Third, China is stepping up the application of emerging technologies in the field of health care to build a healthy China. Efforts are made to increase the application of 5G, big data, artificial intelligence, robots and other emerging technologies in the medical industry, promote R&D and application, and develop smart medical care and telemedicine. So far, China has built 50 national clinical research centers that integrate advanced technology and become demonstration centers for technology applications. In particular, during the pandemic, emerging technologies such as 5G, big data, drones, artificial intelligence, and autonomous driving have been widely used, which have played an important role in China's response to COVID-19.

Committed to openness and cooperation, China has established S&T partnerships with 158 countries, signed intergovernmental S&T cooperation agreements with 112 countries, and acceded to more than 200 international organizations and multilateral mechanisms. China is willing to further strengthen international cooperation, share experience of STI on promoting sustainable development, and contribute to the attainment of the SDGs worldwide.

Thank you.

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