In 1986, to meet the global challenges of new technology revolution and competition, four Chinese scientists, WANG Daheng, WANG Ganchang, YANG Jiachi, and CHEN Fangyun, jointly proposed to accelerate China’s high-tech development. With strategic vision and resolution, the late Chinese leader Mr. DENG Xiaoping personally approved the National High-tech R&D Program, namely the 863 Program. Implemented during three successive Five-year Plans, the program has boosted China’s overall high-tech development, R&D capacity, socio-economic development, and national security. In April 2001, the Chinese State Council approved continued implementation of the program in the 10th Five-year Plan. As one of the national S&T program trilogy in the 10th Five-year Plan, 863 Program continues to play its important role.
1. Orientation and Objectives
Objectives of this program during the 10th Five-year Plan period are to boost innovation capacity in the high-tech sectors, particularly in strategic high-tech fields, in order to gain a foothold in the world arena; to strive to achieve breakthroughs in key technical fields that concern the national economic lifeline and national security; and to achieve “leap-frog” development in key high-tech fields in which China enjoys relative advantages or should take strategic positions in order to provide high-tech support to fulfill strategic objectives in the implementation of the third step of our modernization process.
During the 10th Five-year Plan period, the 863 Program will continue to aim at the forefront of world technology development, intensify innovation efforts and realize strategic transitions from pacing front-runners to focusing on “leap-frog” development. Through efforts made in the 5 years, the program will greatly enhance China’s high-tech innovation capacity in selected fields and improve the international competitiveness of major industries. It will master a number of technologies with industrial potential and proprietary IPR. It will nurture a number of high-tech industrial growth sources which will optimize and upgrade China’s industrial structure as a way of fostering both the individual and the overall strength of high tech industries. It will also develop innovative and enterprising talents for high-tech R&D and industrialization.
2. Major Tasks
In line with national objectives and market demands, the program addresses a number of cutting-edge high-tech issues of strategic importance and foresight during the 10th Five-year Plan period. They are:
1) Develop key technologies for the construction of China’s information infrastructure.
The 863 Program will focus on developing a number of key technologies in the next five to ten years and establish systems of significant value for application. It aims to accelerate the national socio-economic development, drive industrialization through informatization, and enable China to approach or catch up with international pioneers in selected fields by the year 2005.
2) Develop key biological, agricultural and pharmaceutical technologies to improve the welfare of the Chinese people.
The 863 Program will concentrate on developing key technologies in agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and other related areas. It will enhance the overall bio-technological R&D level and capacity by a significant margin.
3) Master key new materials and advanced manufacturing technologies to boost industrial competitiveness.
The 863 Program attaches importance to developing nano-material and other new materials, along with related technologies for the development of aviation, the maglev train, information storage and access, in order to meet major demands of national security and economic development by utilizing China’s characteristic resources, environment, and technical strength. Pursuant to advanced manufacturing technologies which cater to globalized agile manufacturing in the 21st century, the Program will develop advanced integrated manufacturing systems and common key technologies leading to the development and upgrading of China’s manufacturing industry.
4) Achieve breakthroughs in key technologies for environmental protection, resources and energy development to serve the sustainable development of our society.
3. Development Priorities
In accordance with major tasks, development priorities are categorized into Priority Projects and Key Projects.
Priority Projects are guided by encouraging innovation, obtaining IPR proprietorship and addressing key technological issues. Priority Projects conduct R&D in 19 subjects which impose the most significant impact on enhancing China’s overall national strengths. These subjects range over 6 high-tech priority fields in the civil sector, including IT, bio-technology and advanced agricultural technology, advanced materials technology, advanced manufacturing and automation technology, energy technology as well as resource and environment technology.
Key Projects are centered on major systems and projects and guided by pooling resource to address significant high-tech issues in line with demands of major national strategies, the market and application. These issues bear strategic significance on China’s high-tech development and participation in international competition. They will facilitate the formation of new economic growth sources and industrial clusters with international competitiveness, and serve as demonstration. They are also crucial elements in enhancing the competitive edge of major industries, facilitating industrial upgrading, developing China’s own features of high technologies, and realizing “leap-frog” progress in the high-tech field.
4. Organization and Management
1) Expert Responsibility System
During the 10th Five-year Plan period, the Program continues practicing an expert responsibility system to engage the full role of experts in technical decision-making and judgments of the high-tech development trend while further developing the decision-making role of the government. The system is tiered with expert committees (priorities) and expert panels (subjects). The former supervise, assess, and give advice on project implementation in relevant priority fields. The latter is responsible for technical decision-making on relevant subjects and their project process management.
2) Project Management
During the 10th Five-year Plan period, the Program adopts project management system which includes calculation of the full budget, total cost accounting, and a project leader responsibility system. To pool resource and focus on key issues, key projects are managed by the general expert panel. As for R&D budget management, priority projects will be mostly financed by the government and adopt a project budget system. Meanwhile, local governments, industries, enterprises and the whole society will be encouraged to increase input into high-tech R&D.
3) Relevant Measures
A series of measures have been adopted for the smooth implementation of the program in the 10th Five-year Plan period.
(1) Encourage innovation. In project award and evaluation, proprietary intellectual property right (IPR) acquisition is adopted as an indicator to encourage innovation.
(2) Enhance the innovation capacity of enterprises and push them to become technical innovation entities. For application-oriented research, we adopted measures in project application, assessment and evaluation.
(3) Strengthen IPR management and protection. We strengthen study and analysis of IPR before and during project implementation and clearly define the rights and interests of the State, project stakeholders, and concerned parties in the application, development, and utilization of IPR.
(4) Strengthen the integration of the Program with local high-tech development. We initiated guidance projects to guide local high-tech development and associated industries to nurture economic growth sources.
(5) Encourage international cooperation. Special funds are earmarked to facilitate the integration of the 863 Program with the “Program on Major International Cooperation Projects”, and support and encourage the implementation of international cooperative projects within the framework of the 863 Program.