Shaanxi focuses on innovation drive

Shaanxi province has stepped up efforts to advance innovation-driven development and protect local ecosystems.

President Xi Jinping said during a visit to the province in 2015 that Shaanxi has entered “a stage of catching up”, and on a visit in April last year he said it needed to “strive to write a new chapter of accelerated growth in the new era”.

Shaanxi played a key role during the revolution as one of the most important bases for the Communist Party of China.

Liu Guozhong, the province’s Party secretary, told a news conference on Wednesday that Shaanxi beefed up efforts to give full play to its innovation potential in the past year.

The province is home to more than 100 universities, 1,500 research institutes, 66 academicians and over 2 million talented technical professionals and has contributed to some major national technology projects, including deep-sea and lunar explorations, making scientific and technological innovation one of the most distinctive advantages it enjoys, Liu said.

However, the innovation system still has much room for improvement, and the commercialization of scientific achievements is far from enough to turn the province’s innovation advantage into a development advantage, he said.

To address that problem, the province launched a platform in March that aims to channel research and development to incubation and industrialization.

The provincial government has invested 45 billion yuan ($7 billion), set up special teams and formulated a three-year plan as well as guidelines to run the platform, which also involves universities, research institutes, enterprises and financial institutions.

The government has also implemented more than 70 preferential measures and granted 100 million yuan of special funds each year for the building of “scientists plus engineers” teams to help them become entrepreneurs, Liu said.

He added the province will continue to pool resources to produce more good results, support high-quality development and be bold in experimenting to stimulate the vitality of talent and form a good environment for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Shaanxi is also an area that plays a crucial ecological role.

The Yellow River runs across the province and the Qinling Mountains, the natural boundary between northern and southern China, support a huge variety of wildlife.

The mountains suffered multiple environmental problems in the past, including the illegal construction of villas, quarrying and pollution of water sources, as revealed in the anti-corruption fight.

“We’ve learned a big lesson,” Liu said, adding that environmental protection has been a top priority ever since.

The government has eradicated illegal construction, logging, mining, hunting and waste discharge, removed all 169 mining areas in the Qinling Mountains’ key protection zone and demolished 63 hydropower stations.

After the rectification, kingdonia, a one-leaf plant known as a natural indicator of an excellent ecosystem, was recently discovered for the first time in the mountains.

The management of the Yellow River is another major project for Shaanxi’s environment protection work. The province has planted grass and trees and built dams on the Loess Plateau – the major source of the river’s sediment – to reduce the amount of sand it carries and is strictly controlling sewage to prevent pollution.