Mr Yan Shijing, Vice President, Sichuan University
Professor Murray Scott, Fellow, Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering
China Science and Technology Exchange Centre Representatives
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I’m pleased to welcome participants of the Australia-China Young Scientists Exchange Program to Chengdu. This program reflects the strong Australia-China relationship in science, technology and research.
Even before diplomatic relations, there was already cooperation in field of radio astronomy in the 1960s.
Today, Australia and China enjoy a strong and vibrant relationship in research cooperation, underpinned by longstanding and strong government to government ties.
Australian researchers rank 3rd for contributions to Chinese research publications. The number of joint scientific publications involving Chinese and Australian authors published tripled annually between 2012 and 2017 to over 10,000.
I’m even more pleased that the YSEP includes Chengdu as a key part of its program this year.
Many of you know Chengdu and southwest for its pandas and spicy food.
But few of you know that southwest China might know that it has a long and rich history of science, technology, engineering and innovation
- for example the engineering marvel of the Dujiangyan irrigation system which is over 2000 years old. Its ingenuity has made the Chengdu Plain the food bowl of the west, the “land of abundance”
- legends have it that Zhuge Liang, the chancellor of the Shu Kingdom in 231 CE invented the wheelbarrow, then called “wooden ox 木牛流马”, to carry food and ammunition for the war against the Wei kingdom during the Three Kingdoms period
- there is also a contested theory that attributes the “repeating crossbow 诸葛弩” capable of shooting multiple arrows or poison darts to Zhuge Liang
In the 20th century, there were enormous injections of talent, technology and resources into the southwest, especially Chengdu
- during the Second World War, universities and research institutes moved into the southwest following Japanese occupation of the coastal provinces
- after the formation of People’s Republic of China in 1949, the central government set up key institutions focusing on science and technology here
- and during the Third Front Construction in the 1960s, critical infrastructure and industries were moved inland, centring on the southwest. This laid a solid foundation for Chengdu’s R&D, civil-military, aerospace, and industrial development today.
Hence, it’s not surprising that Chengdu produces
- half the world’s iPads;
- 50% of the world’s CPUs; and
- 20% of the world’s computers.
Chengdu is making a name for itself in innovation.
Mayor Luo Qiang wants start-ups, innovators, and scientists to find their “home in Chengdu”.
He sees innovation as the key to Chengdu’s continued economic growth.
From the “land of abundance”. Now, Chengdu is the “land of innovation”. 天府之国has become 创意之国.
And Australia is getting involved.
I’ll give you a few local examples
- ANZ has a high tech R&D analytics and operations centre, tapping into a highly educated workforce to facilitate two way trade and investment;
- Cochlear is establishing a major manufacturing and R&D presence;
- Nobel laureate Dr Barry Marshall, in partnership with Huaxi Hospital, has set up the Huaxi-Marshall Research Centre for Infectious Disease; and
- Australia’s involvement in helping arrange career-changing placements for doctoral students to research important aspects of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in nearby Guizhou.
We’re proud to support the critical role science, innovation, and technology play in driving productive, resilient and prosperous nations. We continue this cooperation through Australia’s Global Innovation Strategy and seek to give Australian innovators and researchers the chance to tap into the Chinese investment and support eco-system.
Part of that strategy is a “Landing Pad” in Shanghai, where young Australian companies can transition into the booming southwest China market.
These efforts remind us all of what can be gained from working together, a spirit which underpins our growing economic and people-to-people ties.
As scientists, you’ll be keenly aware that collaboration makes us both stronger.
When governments, researchers, institutions and companies work together, we create partnerships that deliver greater benefits for all.
I look forward to hearing more about the achievements of the Young Scientists Exchange Programme participants.