People's Daily Online | Exclusive Interview with Mr. Zheng Yueming

Guest: Zheng Yueming

Address: Studio of People’s Daily Online

Abstract: 8th March, deputy to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), Chairman of Levima Group, Chairman and CEO of Levima Advanced Materials, Mr. Zheng Yueming received an exclusive interview with People’s Daily Online.

——What impresses you most about this year’s Report on the Work of the Government?

Zheng Yueming: There are two parts which impressed me most. Firstly, the economic achievements that our country has made over the past five years. In the year of 2017, China accounts for 15 percent of the global GDP and its contribution to world economic growth has exceeded 30%. China is leading the world in the fields of sharing economy, high-speed rail, e-commerce, etc. Within all these accomplishments, China's poverty alleviation achievements are particularly impressive to me. We have the largest population living in poverty. Over the past five years, more than 68 million people have been lifted out of poverty and this year, China will continuously reduce the poor rural population by over 10 million. Besides, we have made great progress in many other aspects such as environmental protection, reform and opening up, as well as the reforms to streamline administration, delegate more powers, improve regulation, and provide better services.

Secondly, as for objectives announced in this year’s Government Work Report, we will continue to deepen the reforms to streamline administration, delegate more powers, improve regulation, and provide better services. Even though we have made some progress over the past five years, there is still a long way to go. What’s more, I’m impressed with China’s efforts in easing financial burdens for businesses, cutting tax charges along with the non-tax ones. In addition, I’m glad to see our government values innovation-driven development. Promoting enterprise-led science and technology projects has been particularly mentioned in this year’s Government Work Report. Our government will provide better support for the cooperation between scientific research institutes, universities and enterprises with the aim of accelerating transformation of sci-tech achievements.

——What kind of motions or advices have you submitted this year?

Zheng Yueming: My first advice is about promoting the transformation of scientific and technological achievements. China has numerous scientific and technological achievements. It is estimated that the number of Chinese invention patent applications and patent grants ranked in first globally in 2017. Scientific papers published by domestic scientists in international journals and those referenced ranked second and the number of valid innovation patents ranked third in 2017. Admittedly, we have made great progress in terms of improving innovation capability. Still, China’s position on the world’s innovation index ranking is much less satisfying. At present, China ranks 17th globally in innovation capability and we still have a lot to do when it comes to transformation of scientific and technological achievements. Large companies, universities & research institutes are two major players on China’s innovation stage. Chinese government formulated Law on Promoting the Transformation of Scientific and Technological Achievements in 1996 and reformulated it later in 2015, which has greatly increased researchers’ enthusiasm for science and protected their individual interests at the same time. The status quo of science and technology achievements transformation, nevertheless, is not optimistic. On the one hand, companies starve for advanced technological achievements to maintain a sustainable development. On the other hand, universities and research institutes need to transform their scientific and technological achievements into real productive forces. Accordingly, it is recommended to bridge a gap between research institutes and industrial practice. That’s the reason why I suggest our government to establish technological achievements transformation platforms, which could help to connect technological achievements with the market.

——For your company, what have you done to sustain innovation?

Zheng Yueming: As an enterprise specializes in advanced materials and specialty chemicals, we certainly need a lot of technological achievements. When speaking of innovation, there are two points of view. Previously, many companies stressed strongly on R&D investment, seeking to obtain High-tech Enterprises Status. Chinese authorities have revamped innovation incentive policies in order to encourage participation by domestic and foreign stakeholders, and more effectively promote China’s development as an advanced, high-tech industrial economy. However, at present, enterprises are motivated to pursue innovation because they have realized its necessity for corporate development.

Certainly, scientific and technological achievements do not equal to industrial products. They mean environmental protection as well, such as emissions. All chemical companies must deal with the problem of wastewater discharges and greenhouse gas emissions, which require technological expertise. Products, technologies and even the overall performance of a company have been integrated together. Products are not the only criteria to define if a company is innovative or not. Just because when talking about advanced or innovative companies, there are many other restrictions and measurements. Having started into production in 2015, we are doing in the way of an innovative company, from technology to environmental protection. Levima is still a young company and it’s not the right time to sum up. We still need to personalize our own development strategy in accordance with national policies and our government’s requirements towards innovation-driven development.

——What’s the role of a company in national innovation system?

Zheng Yueming: A complete innovation system must have innovation resources, a proper environment and supporting infrastructures. The truth is that authorities are playing an important role in China’s innovation system. Besides, we have universities & research institutes, enterprises of course and all kinds of supporting systems, that means infrastructures. All these four elements constitute a quadrangular innovation system.

In my opinion, enterprises will be a main part in this system. The products of a company demonstrate its innovative capability. We can clearly see that all countries with high innovation capabilities and high-end products place enterprises in a core position. For example, for our industry, we have BASF, the DOW Chemical Company, Dupont, etc. There is no doubt that enterprises will play a leading role in the system of innovation soon.

——What’s the relationship between scientific innovation and achievements transformation?

Zheng Yueming: Transformation of scientific and technological achievements is the key. You could have numerous innovation achievements but all this mean nothing without industrial application. We should manufacture products which could respond the market needs because resources are always limited. People have the desire for better products, of course. But as a provider, you must know the market need when innovating products. Innovation is important but it’s more important to think about how to transform your technological achievements into real productivity or practical products.

——What have you done in the transformation process of old and new growth drivers?

Zheng Yueming: Our government has identified ten strategic industries in its “Made in China 2025” proposal and five of these ten priority sectors are advanced ones. Advanced materials is a new industry cluster, which we have been engaged in from the very beginning. Operating smoothly these years, Levima is eager to incorporate herself in the transformation process of old and new economic drivers of Shandong via this platform. During the discussion with other deputies, I find that almost all of them have reached a consensus that implementation of good policy packages should always be coordinated with a series of strategic industrial complementarities or sectoral plans. Therefore, it is essential to set up practical plans and what we are doing is exactly that. Our company hopes to contribute for the implementation of national strategic policies and that of transition economy practice.