Written by Tang Yi / Translated by Xie Zongming
In the Global Innovation Index 2021 released by World Intellectual Property Organization, China ranks No. 12, moving up from No. 34 in 2012 and becoming an innovative country. Meanwhile, as China-ASEAN ties become increasingly closer, enhancing cooperation in technological innovation using their complementary advantages in economy and technology has become the trend of the times.
As a high-level sideline forum of the China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO), the Forum on China-ASEAN Technology Transfer and Collaborative Innovation (The Innovation Forum) plays an important role in promoting China-ASEAN regional technology transfer and innovation cooperation, becoming a crucial platform for China-ASEAN technological innovation cooperation and exchange. By now, the Forum has been held for nine consecutive years and has seen good effects in facilitating China-ASEAN technological innovation cooperation and showcasing innovative results. 2022 will mark the opening of the 10th Forum, and China and ASEAN will keep discovering more possibilities for cooperation with it.
A broader road of China-ASEAN technological cooperation
In response to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and for promoting the implementation of the BRI technological innovation action plan, the ministerial officials of China and ASEAN countries jointly launched the China-ASEAN in the Science and Technology Partnership Program at the first Special Session of China-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Science, Technology and Innovation, stating that a ChinaASEAN Technology Transfer Center (CATTC) should be built to promote the China-ASEAN innovation community at the first Special Session of China-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Science, Technology and Innovation.
At the opening ceremony of the 10th CAEXPO in 2013, leaders of China-ASEAN science and technology authorities jointly inaugurated the CATTC. The same year, the Forum first appeared as a CAEXPO sideline forum with the theme of “Joint Innovation, Mutual Development”. After years of efforts, the Forum has become a high-quality platform for China-ASEAN exchange and cooperation in technological innovation that serves the alignment of governments, enterprises, and institutions between China and ASEAN countries, effectively promoting regional technology transfer and innovation cooperation.
2018 marked the China-ASEAN Year of Innovation and the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the China-ASEAN Strategic Partnership. In that year, the 6th Innovation Forum further enhanced its quality to facilitate the technology exchange and cooperation between China and ASEAN. At the Forum, CATTC, the Chinese Academy of Sciences Innovation Cooperation Center (Bangkok), and the National Science and Technology Development Agency of Thailand jointly promoted the signing of a series of significant China-ASEAN technological cooperation agreements, including the Memorandum of Understanding on Jointly Promoting China-Thailand Innovation Cooperation by Chinese Academy of Sciences Innovation Cooperation Center (Bangkok), CATTC, and the National Science and Technology Development Agency of Thailand, Memorandum on Traditional Medicine International Research Cooperation between the Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine and Lao Institute of Traditional Medicine, and China-ASEAN Traditional Medicine Training Base for Standardization, aiming to practically promote the exchange and integrated development of innovation between China and ASEAN.
The deepening China-ASEAN technological innovation and exchange is promoted by the Forum, with encouraging results cooperation of technological and social sciences, technology transfer, joint lab construction, technology parks, and innovative startups.
Exploring new cooperation in collaboration with Guangxi
The Innovation Forum promotes the expansion of the China-ASEAN technology transfer network by attracting domestic and ASEAN technology companies, institutes, and associations to participate in the technology cooperation between China and ASEAN, making Guangxi an ASEAN-oriented information hub for international technology cooperation.
At the 7th Innovation Forum held in 2019, Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants and Lao Institutes of Traditional Medicine of the Ministry of Health signed the agreement on jointly building the Guangxi-Laos Joint Lab for Traditional Medicinal Research. By facilitating the construction of Laos’ national medicinal botanical garden, the agreement will make the garden a demonstration zone for traditional medicine in the ASEAN region while helping the Guangxi Botanical Garden of Medicinal Plants participate in international TCM cooperation.
In addition, Fei Zhirong, the then Vice Chairman of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, stated at the 9th Innovation Forum that Guangxi is focusing on building an ASEAN-oriented cooperation area for technological innovation cooperation and implementing the Work Plan of ASEAN Talented Young Scientists Program of Guangxi (ATYSP) to create a China-ASEAN coordination network for technology transfer that covers ten ASEAN countries. Since the implementation of the Program, a total of 199 job applications have been handled and 52 young scientists from ASEAN and BRI countries have been introduced to Guangxi’s universities, institutes, and enterprises for shortterm exchange, solving over 60 technological issues and producing over 80 pieces of cooperation results.
The ATYSP was launched at the end of 2017 by Guangxi under the framework of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology’s Talented Young Scientist Program. It aims to facilitate the exchange of technological and social sciences within the BRI using its unique geographical advantages. At the 1st ASEAN Plus Three (10+3) Young Scientists Forum, an event of the 7th Innovation Forum, Guangxi Science and Technology Department officially launched ATYSP Online System which relies on the Guangxi Welcomes All Talents online platform to serve the neighboring countries’ diplomatic strategy and Guangxi’s need for technological innovation talents.
“China has a good research environment. That is why I’m here,” said Dr. Goh Hui Hwang, Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, at the 2nd ASEAN Plus Three (10+3) Young Scientists Forum when interacting with other young scientists. In June 2020, Dr. Goh Hui Hwang chose to stay in China after the ATYSP finished and was offered the appointment to be a professor at the School of Electrical Engineering, Guangxi University.
Cao Kunhua, the then Director-General of Guangxi Science and Technology Department, said that Guangxi will keep utilizing the Innovation Forum to provide more and better platforms for the exchange and cooperation between institutions and enterprises of China and ASEAN, facilitating the transfer and translation of scientific and technological outcomes.
RCEP speeds up the upgrading and transformation of cooperation in technology
With the press release and agenda of the 10th Innovation Forum coming out, the warm-up activities for the Forum in 2022 have also started. This year, the Forum will focus on “Digital Technology + Big Health”, and it will maintain the online + on-site model to hold a series of events, including the opening ceremony, main event, 10+3 Young Scientists Forum, advanced technology exhibition, technology promotion, and so on, to fully showcase the achievements of China-ASEAN technological innovation cooperation in the past ten years since the Innovation Forum was first held and continue to provide all-round service for China’s institutions to cooperate with ASEAN in such aspect.
At the 9th Innovation Forum, the organizer has already adopted Internet technology to keep the on-site participants both from the main venue in Nanning and the branch venue in Japan, ROK, and Thailand tuning in for the event. With the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership entering into force by early 2022, the 19th CAEXPO is themed “Sharing RCEP New Opportunities, Building a Version 3.0 China-ASEAN FTA”. On this theme, new requirements are added to the 10th Innovation Forum on the service contents and targeted audience while bringing new opportunities for technological innovation cooperation and development to the Forum.
RCEP countries like Japan, ROK, Australia, and New Zealand have certain first-mover advantages in digital technology and big health, thus the Forum is expected to rely on the background of RCEP’s entry into force to further promote the sharing of innovative results among the countries within the region, by which the Forum can sustain and extend the channel for international technology cooperation and communication, facilitating ChinaASEAN economic upgrade and industrial restructuring through technological innovation and technology transfer.
Although China and ASEAN countries are deepening the cooperation in technology, the potential of such cooperation is yet to be fully explored. With RCEP’s entry into force, there will be a broader prospect for this cooperation. In the future, it is convincing that the Innovation Forum will keep leading China-ASEAN technological innovation and technology transfer, promoting further China-ASEAN cooperation in technology.